Hub researchers gathered for the Deep-sea Life Summit, an internal mini-conference on the ongoing negotiations at the UN on an international legally binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) on 29-30 April 2021. At the Summit, researchers explored various options to contribute to the 4th BBNJ Intergovernmental Conference that will is likely to take place from 16- 27 August 2021. This blogpost explains the objectives of the Summit and its main outcomes.
OUR OBJECTIVES AND APPROACH
The Summit aimed to:
• bring together all Hub researchers that have an interest or experience in contributing to BBNJ negotiations, as well as all Hub researchers whose research is relevant for BBNJ process but may not have prior knowledge of the BBNJ negotiations;
• develop a shared understanding of the opportunities of integrating Hub inputs from across different disciplines with a view to contributing to the BBNJ negotiations; and
• Identify follow-up action with different partners.
The Summit took place over two days, with researchers being invited to share utopian visions for protecting deep-sea life – in other words, they were asked to share what their research indicates that the protection of BBNJ needs and how they would expect a new international instrument to support that vision. On that basis, researchers then focused on the current status of the BBNJ negotiations, over two multi-disciplinary panels.
The first panel focused on “Marine Genetic Resources (MGRs) and Benefit-sharing, Capacity Building and Technology Transfer” and considered:
- insights from prior and current experiences in bio-innovation partnerships;
- prior and current research on fair and equitable benefit-sharing in Global North-Global South bio-innovation partnerships;
- intellectual property dimensions;
- relevance for marine spatial planning.
The second panel focused on “the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) and Area-based Management Tools (ABMTs)” and considered:
- fundamental ecological knowledge gaps and needs;
- the impacts of climate change on deep-sea ecosystems;
- socio-cultural dimensions, and the integration of traditional knowledge and cultural heritage;
- deep-sea ecosystem services; and
- ecological connectivity.
OUTCOMES AND NEXT STEPS
Hub researchers identified a series of key messages that integrated their diverse perspectives and contributions from across the marine and social sciences around:
- the need to manage our inter-connected ocean at basin-scale,
- the urgent need to advance knowledge of deep-sea ecosystems, including through strategic environmental assessments;
- the need to consider bio-cultural diversity and climate change with respect to the connectivity of marine areas within and beyond national jurisdiction; and
- the benefits for ocean science of an international oversight body on BBNJ.
Hub researchers will distil the more detailed findings from the Summit into policy briefs addressed to BBNJ negotiations over the next month on the following topics:
- the benefits for advancing ocean science of an international oversight body on BBNJ;
- the necessary features of an international scientific and technical body on BBNJ;
- the objectives and modalities of strategic environmental assessments;
- the needs and preferred approaches for capacity-building about BBNJ; and
- the features of responsible research and innovation on BBNJ.
In addition, Hub researchers will develop inputs on the links between BBNJ and: the blue economy, marine spatial planning, open-access science, involvement of indigenous peoples and youth, ecological connectivity and cultural and socio-economic considerations.
Finally, Hub researchers have been involved in informal conversations with colleagues in other institutions and projects about better connecting research from different disciplines and making it more accessible to BBNJ negotiators. They are now exploring the possible creation of an online space for sharing new research papers across different disciplines and distilling their key messages to the benefit of BBNJ negotiators.