January 22, 2024 #ChileSustentable

Global Oceans Treaty: What is it? Five keys to understanding its importance

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Chile became the first country to ratify the Agreement on Marine Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ). By doing so, it commits to strengthen the governance of the high seas and establishes the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity as a main objective. We summarize in 5 points this real milestone in environmental matters.

1. The ocean as protagonist

In general terms, this agreement seeks to convert 30% of the world's oceans into protected areas by 2030. It establishes the sustainable use of marine genetic resources, the assessment of environmental impacts and an equitable sharing of benefits, especially for developing countries.

The agreement protects the so-called "international waters", those beyond 200 nautical miles from the coasts and which make up two-thirds of the total oceans.

It will also promote sustainable management of marine biological diversity at the global level to guarantee various human rights, such as the right to food and the environment.

Beyond 200 miles

The agreement protects the so-called "international waters", those located beyond 200 nautical miles from the coasts and which make up two thirds of the total oceans. These waters are so far managed under international agreements and bodies without jurisdiction or specific rules for their protection.

3. A new generation treaty

The BBNJ is considered a new generation treaty, as it incorporates the evolution of international environmental law, includes a multilateral approach to the protection of the marine environment and establishes the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity as its main objective. It incorporates the regulation of marine genetic resources, including the digital sequence information of such resources or the notion of climate change.

4. Importance for Chile

In relation to the ocean, Chile has a strategic State position, with a comprehensive vision on its conservation and sustainable use, which is expressed in its participation in international initiatives (host of Our Ocean Conference in 2015; member of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy; co-chair of the Ocean Climate Dialogue under the UNFCCC), and the formal protection of 43% of its jurisdictional waters.

The BBNJ involves Chile in the global governance of areas outside its national jurisdiction, broadening its influence on decisions. This is strategic because of Chile's oceanic nature (the 11th largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world) and its status as a developing country.

5. Next steps

The pact was agreed on March 4 at the United Nations and formally adopted on June 19, 2023. Chile signed it on September 20, and it was unanimously ratified by the Senate in January 2024. In parallel, Chile offered to host the BBNJ Secretariat in Valparaiso, which has yet to be approved by the parties.

A total of 83 countries and the European Union have already signed the BBNJ. It will be up to the Secretary General of the United Nations to convene its first Conference of the Parties (COP).

For more information, please review this note from the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


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