Conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction – BBNJ

The high seas—61% of the ocean that lies in areas beyond national jurisdiction—are the quintessential global commons. Marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) has attracted international attention as scientists reveal the richness and vulnerability of such biodiversity, particularly around seamounts, hydrothermal vents, sponges, and cold-water corals. Concerns have grown about the increasing anthropogenic pressures posed by existing and emerging activities, such as fishing, mining, marine pollution, and bioprospecting.

The high seas are governed by an incomplete patchwork of international organizations and treaties. Even the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) offers minimal guidance on environmental conservation. Following more than a decade of discussions convened under the United Nations General Assembly, the Assembly, in its resolution 72/249 in 2017, convened an intergovernmental conference to elaborate a new treaty under UNCLOS on the conservation and sustainable use of BBNJ.

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