World leaders urged to have clear intentions and conclude global ocean treaty negotiations


Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna has urged world leaders attending the resumed fifth-session of the Intergovernmental Conference on the Biological Diversity Beyond National Jurisdictions (BBNJ IGC-5) in New York to hold faith for a global protected ocean.

Noting the negotiation process for this global ocean treaty under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has been challenging and arduous, lasting more than a decade, Puna called for the treaty to be robust and ambitious, and urged all nations to bring that energy and clarity to the table.

World leaders and oceans negotiators are in New York for two weeks to conclude negotiations for a treaty that is anticipated to define the future sustainability of global oceans – a treaty for BBNJ.

He said the treaty’s adoption would be a momentous occasion for humanity because – together with other agreements – it would represent a whole ocean approach, particularly on the conservation ad sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national borders.

Negotiations were initially set to conclude by the end of 2022, however, a conclusion was not yet within reach at the last session in August the same year.

The PIF SG said leading officials and negotiators from the Blue Pacific were engaging in this resumed session “expecting nothing less than the finalisation of a legally binding instrument extending the vision of the Law of the Sea to protect all ocean life beyond our national borders”.

“We must all come together with clear intentions to conclude this process and to engage in good faith with solid political resolve, resourcing and commitment,” Puna said in a statement.

“It is high time we achieve not only what the world wants, but what our shared ocean so desperately requires – legally binding closure.

“As stewards of the Blue Pacific, our interests and concerns transcend the limits of our 200-mile exclusive economic zones (EEZ).

“The ocean is our gift and responsibility, a duty that we have inherited from generations past and which we will leave for future generation.

“Our 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific continent commits us to urgent action to combat biodiversity and habitat loss across our sea of islands. This instrument is crucial in that regard.”

Puna said the successful conclusion of negotiations would add to a rich heritage as one Blue Pacific, working together collectively for the benefit of its people.

The BBNJ IGC-5 is the resumed session of Fifth Session of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) on an international legally binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ).

The resumed session takes place at the UN headquarters in New York from 20 February to 03 March.