United Nations -Nippon Foundation Fellows (2016) – week 2 activities

Second Week Report (28 March-1 April 2016)

On 28 March 2016, the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) on ABNJ commenced. The UNNF Fellows, who continued to participate in the Regional Leaders training, were invited to observe the negotiations. This PrepCom has the mandate under General Assembly Resolution A/RES/69/292, of 19 June 2015, to develop an international legally binding instrument (ILBI) as Implementing Agreement to the UNCLOS on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction;

The negotiation process in the Preparatory Committee focused on a “Package Deal” of issues: Marine Genetic Resources (MGRs), including issues on the sharing of benefits; measures for conservation and sustainable use, such as area-based management tools (ABMTs), including Marine Protected Areas (MPAs); Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs); Capacity-building and the Transfer of Marine Technology;

E. Eden Charles, Chair of the PrepCom and Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago to the UN opened the session, noting that the full-capacity attendance reflected the importance of the PrepCom which, following more than a decade of work in the format of an Informal Working Group, was no longer a consultative process. On behalf of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Counsel, noted that full rooms indicate commitment, stressing that a turning point has been reached in relation to the future of the oceans. He emphasized that time is of the essence and that negotiations should be conducted in a spirit of cooperation. The plenary of the first session of the PrepCom on the elements of a draft text of ILBI on the conservation and sustainable use of BBNJ convened throughout the day to address administrative matters and hear general statements;

On 29 March 2016, the PrepCom plenary convened throughout the day. Gabriele Goettsche-Wanli, DOALOS Director, reported on the lack of contributions to date to the Special Voluntary Trust Fund established by General Assembly Resolution 69/292 to assist developing, least developed and landlocked countries’ and SIDS’ participation in the PrepCom. In that regard, the Netherlands announced a US $200,000 contribution to the Fund for PrepCom 2. In addition, the delegates started their discussions on the guiding approaches and principles of an international legally binding instrument and MGRs, including questions on the sharing of benefits;

On 30 March 2016, the PrepCom plenary had discussions on MGRs, including benefit-sharing questions; area-based management tools (ABMTs), including MPAs; and EIAs. Concerning MGRs, some highlights were the definition of MGRs and its synergies with the Nagoya Protocol and other relevant instruments including in situ and ex situ overview in the context. With regard to ABMTs, delegates highlighted, among others, the necessity to establish a global institutional mechanism to coordinate ABMTs, on the basis of a science-based approach, precaution, transparency and accountability, without undermining the mandate of existing regional and/or sectoral bodies. On EIAs, the African group called for the ILBI to address governance mechanisms for EIA, including a process for assessing previously unexamined activities and their impacts in ABNJ;

On 31 March 2016, the PrepCom plenary convened in the morning to continue to consider EIAs, and capacity building and technology transfer. Following a short afternoon plenary, an informal working group on MGRs, including questions on benefit-sharing, was facilitated by Amb. Carlos Sobral Duarte (Brazil); E Eden Charles recalled that in informal meetings prior to the PrepCom it was agreed that the informal working groups would be open to civil society and industry, as these groups are not “informal informal” drafting sessions;

On 1 April 2016, the informal working group on MGRs continued in the morning. In the afternoon, the PrepCom plenary reconvened briefly, followed by an informal working group on ABMTs, including MPAs, facilitated by Mr. John Adank (New Zealand). In informal working group on MGRs, the issues discussed were related to definitions and scope, access, benefit-sharing and intellectual property rights. Meanwhile, in informal working group on Area-based Management Tools, the delegates focused the discussions on definitions, objectives, principles, criteria and the governance.

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