Pacific Negotiators gathered at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat this week to strategise and prepare for the next phase of international negotiations on a new legally binding instrument on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) at the United Nations in August.
The negotiations on the new instrument to govern areas beyond national jurisdiction or simply areas beyond any State’s exclusive economic zone are at an advance stage with two remaining sessions of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) to be held in New York in August and in early 2020.
In welcoming the Negotiators, Forum Secretariat’s Officer in Charge, Paki Ormsby reiterated the Forum Leaders commitment to the ongoing BBNJ process through the mobilisation of all relevant Forum mechanisms to advance the Pacific’s positions in the negotiations.
“We need to take full ownership of this process as it directly affects our people and their livelihoods. The ocean is not what separates us but it is what connects us,” said Mr Ormsby.
Key Pacific priority areas for preparation and discussion are efforts to reflect the importance of traditional knowledge; interests of coastal states and adjacency; the special case of Small Island Developing States; and governance structure. There will also be dialogue on marine genetic resources to build further understanding amongst Pacific delegations
Speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum Chair, Margo Deiye, Counsellor at Nauru’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, emphasised the importance of time in order to meet the 2020 deadline set by the global community and also to meet the aspirations of the Blue Pacific.
“We need to ensure that negotiations for an ambitious instrument successfully conclude and that we can restore and maintain the healthy, productive and resilient oceans that our countries and region depend on for poverty eradication, food security and essential ecosystem services – as well as for their critical role in our identities and cultures,” said Ms Deiye.
Eight officials represent the region at the negotiations. Experts from CROP agencies and the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner are providing delegates with support throughout the negotiations and related processes.