International Efforts to Safeguard High Seas Biodiversity: Progress and Challenges

International Efforts to Safeguard High Seas Biodiversity: Progress and Challenges

The Blue Leaders High-Level Event on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction took place in Belgium on March 7, 2024. It aimed to promote the ratification of a new treaty focused on protecting the high seas from various threats.

Background of the BBNJ Treaty

The BBNJ Treaty, focusing on marine biological diversity beyond national jurisdiction, was agreed upon by countries in March 2023 and formally adopted two months later. It seeks to address issues such as pollution, climate change, overfishing, and the equitable sharing of marine genetic resources.

Importance of the Event

Speakers at the event emphasized the significance of using international platforms like the United Nations Ocean Conference in 2025 to bring the BBNJ Treaty into force. Various countries, including Belgium, Cape Verde, Greece, Monaco, Nigeria, Norway, and the United Kingdom, participated in the event.

Current Status and Ratification Process

As of now, 88 countries have signed the treaty, with Chile and Palau being the only two to ratify it. The treaty will enter into force upon ratification by at least 60 countries. The signing period ends on September 20, 2025.

Key Objectives and Provisions of the BBNJ Treaty

The treaty aims to increase the percentage of protected areas in the high seas, ensure fair sharing of marine genetic resources, and establish guidelines for Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) for activities like carbon sequestration and deep-sea mining.

Challenges and Concerns

There are concerns regarding potential delays in ratifying the treaty, although efforts are being made to expedite the process. After ratification, countries will need to address challenges such as establishing operational procedures, budgets, and the location of the Secretariat.

Efforts Towards Marine Life Protection

Countries are also working towards protecting at least 30% of marine life by 2030, as agreed upon in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. The high seas play a crucial role in achieving this target.

Challenges in Conducting EIAs

Concerns have been raised about the effectiveness of the EIA process outlined in the treaty. Strengthening scientific support through an empowered Scientific and Technical Body is suggested to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity.

Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs):

  1. When was the Blue Leaders High-Level Event on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction held?
    • A) March 7, 2023
    • B) March 7, 2024
    • C) September 20, 2025
    • D) September 20, 2023
    • Answer: B) March 7, 2024
  2. How many countries have ratified the BBNJ Treaty so far?
    • A) 30
    • B) 60
    • C) 88
    • D) 100
    • Answer: C) 88
  3. What percentage of marine life are countries aiming to protect by 2030?
    • A) 20%
    • B) 30%
    • C) 40%
    • D) 50%
    • Answer: B) 30%
  4. What is one of the key challenges regarding the EIA process outlined in the BBNJ Treaty?
    • A) Lack of political support
    • B) Insufficient funding
    • C) Ineffective scientific support
    • D) Limited participation of coastal countries
    • Answer: C) Ineffective scientific support