High Seas Conservation: how can we manage our common oceans responsibly?

After years of discussion at the United Nations, many States are now calling for a new multilateral agreement for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction. Come get an update on threats to high seas biodiversity and gaps in governance, debate the advantages and disadvantages of a new legal agreement, contribute on ways to improve the effectiveness of existing agreements, and help plan a better future for our global ocean commons.

A variety of perspectives and views are welcome on ways to improve the effectiveness, accountability and equity of how we manage and conserve marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction.

Background: Our inability to effectively manage the high seas and seabed Area beyond national jurisdiction is one of the greatest challenges facing the international community today.

Comprising almost half the planet, and nearly two thirds of the ocean, the high seas and seabed Area are beyond the reach of many of the institutions, laws and mechanisms available closer to shore for safeguarding ecosystem health, conserving biodiversity, equitably sharing nature´s benefits and sustainably managing human activities. At the same time, the impacts of fisheries, shipping, oil and gas and other extractive industries, bioprospecting, pollution and marine debris are expanding both further out and deeper down while rising CO2 levels are affecting all ocean areas, even in the far depths.

To help address these concerns, the UN established in 2004 an ad hoc open-ended working group to study issues related to marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction. In 2011, this working group agreed to identify gaps and ways forward to ensure the legal framework for conservation and sustainable use was effective. Issues to be addressed as a package include marine genetic resources, environmental impact assessments, area-based tools including MPAs, capacity building and the transfer of marine technology.

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