Member States of the Abidjan Convention unanimously passed a resolution on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) at the 13th Conference of the Parties (COP13). The COP was themed Ocean Governance: challenges and opportunities for the sustainable development of Africa and was held online between 13 and 15 December 2021.
The Abidjan Convention’s COP13 brought together State representatives as well as stakeholders from research, regional and international organisations, and civil society. The COP is the highest body within the Abidjan Convention and meets every two to three years. The meeting is the opportunity for States to discuss and vote upon draft decisions which will guide the Convention’s future priorities and work program of its participating States for the environmental management and protection of the Southeast Atlantic region.
In this thirteenth meeting of the Abidjan Convention COP, member States committed to:
- Recognize the importance of the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in ABNJ, taking into account ecological connectivity and their socio-economic importance to the region;
- Urge participating States to cooperate and coordinate with global, regional, sub-regional and sectoral bodies for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in ABNJ;
- Encourage participating States to continue their participation in and contribution to the process of finalizing an internationally legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in ABNJ currently being negotiated under the United Nations;
- Urge participating States to strengthen marine scientific research and capacity at the national and sub-regional levels for informed decision making with respect to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in ABNJ; and
- Welcome the progress made in the Convention’s Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group on Areas Beyond National Jurisdictions, and its cooperation with partners, including the STRONG High Seas project, as well as extend the mandate of this working group to continue its efforts.
Passing this resolution demonstrates a clear commitment from member States of the Abidjan Convention to remain active and continue to engage with issues concerning the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of ABNJ in the Southeast Atlantic region, building upon resolutions passed during the Convention’s COP11 (CP11/10) and COP12 (CP12/12). The complete resolution text can be read here.
The IASS, the coordinator of the STRONG High Seas project, provided a brief intervention during COP13 to welcome the draft resolution and is delighted that the resolution was unanimously passed. Scientific findings and ongoing research by the STRONG High Seas project indicate that continued and coordinated efforts in the form of e.g., pursuing cross-sectoral and multi-stakeholder cooperation, establishing new or enhancing existing conservation and management measures, and strengthening research and capacity development for informed decision making remain critical for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in ABNJ.
Read the Abidjan Convention COP13 press release here.
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