In its resolution 72/249 of 24 December 2017, the General Assembly decided to convene an Intergovernmental Conference, under the auspices of the United Nations, to consider the recommendations of the Preparatory Committee established by resolution 69/292 of 19 June 2015 on the elements and to elaborate the text of an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, with a view to developing the instrument as soon as possible.
The Conference met for its first session from 4 to 17 September 2018. During the opening session, Miguel de Serpa Soares, Secretary-General of the Conference,
Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Counsel, stated that “The importance of the sustainable use and conservation of the oceans and seas and marine resources for sustainable development is not in doubt. Sustainable oceans and seas can contribute to poverty eradication, sustained economic growth, food security and creation of sustainable livelihoods and decent work. At the same time protecting the marine environment, including marine biodiversity, will help build resilience to the impacts of climate change”. He further reminded delegates and participants that “the path to this day has been long but fruitful”; and highlighted the collegial atmosphere that prevailed during the previous organizational meeting.
Miguel de Serpa Soares, Secretary-General of the IGC, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Counsel; IGC President Rena Lee, Singapore; and Gabriele Goettsche-Wanli, Director, UNDOALOS
Photo by IISD/ENB | Francis Dejon
During the session, the Conference proceeded with its mandate assisted by a document prepared by the President of the Conference, Mrs. Rena Lee, Ambassador for Oceans and Law of the Sea Issues and Special Envoy of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore, which identified issues that needed to be further discussed in respect of all elements of the package and cross-cutting issues, and included a limited number of possible questions to be addressed, including, in some cases, possible options in relation thereto. Following a general exchange of views, the discussions were held in informal working groups on: marine genetic resources (MGRs), including questions on the sharing of benefits, facilitated by H.E. Ms. Janine Coye-Felson (Belize); measures such as
area-based management tools, including marine protected areas, facilitated by Ms. Alice Revell (New Zealand); environmental impact assessments, facilitated by Mr. René Lefebre (Netherlands); and capacity building and the transfer of marine technology, facilitated by H.E. Ms. Olai Uludong (Palau).
At the end of the session, in her closing statement, President Lee provided an overview of the proceedings at the first session and indicated that she would prepare a document to facilitate text-based negotiations during the second session of the Conference.
For more information, see https://www.un.org/bbnj/.