STRONG High Seas – Towards an Effective High Seas Treaty: Building on and Strengthening Regional Ocean Governance

30/03/2019 - 9:30 - 4:30

New York, USA

Marine Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) cover about half of the planet’s surface, host a significant portion of its biodiversity, and deliver crucial ecosystem services. In September 2018, after more than a decade of discussions, States began formal negotiations for a legally binding instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in ABNJ.

At the same time, many States and stakeholders have also begun to take action at the regional level. Indeed, the development of regional initiatives for the protection of the marine environment has long been a cornerstone of international environmental policies, providing an appropriate scale for the implementation of an ecosystem approach to conservation and management and facilitating political consensus among those sharing similar history, culture and interests. As such, States and observers are actively considering the possible role of regional organisations within the framework of any future international instrument.

Strong regional and sectoral governance mechanisms can underpin an ambitious and effective international treaty, while a new treaty could in turn provide further support for the development of regional initiatives. However, States are yet to converge on a consensus regarding the modalities for effectively integrating existing regional and sectoral governance mechanisms into the provisions of a new treaty, or on how a new treaty might contribute to the development and strengthening of regional and sectoral governance.

This meeting builds on a prior expert meeting held during the first round of negotiations held in September 2018 that brought together 65 participants to discuss the role and contribution of regional and sectoral ocean governance in developing and underpinning the implementation of a strong high seas agreement. A summary is available here.

The meeting will informally gather around 30 experts for a focused and solutions-oriented discussion regarding the institutional framework of a new agreement, particularly as it relates to the integration of regional and sectoral ocean governance mechanisms. The aim of the meeting is to provide concrete options for negotiators and stakeholders.

Hosted by Germany, the Abidjan Convention Secretariat, the Secretariat of the Permanent Commission for the South Pacific and the STRONG High Seas Project

A side event will be organised during the UN negotiations to provide a summary of the meeting to delegates and stakeholders and a policy brief may be published to disseminate key conclusions.