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Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ)

Biodiversity Beyond

India has called on countries to commit to protecting and preserving our oceans and their diverse life during the current session (Feb-March 2023) of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), known as IGC-5, focusing on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ). India has backed the high ambition coalition, pushing for a speedy agreement on the International Legally Binding Instrument of BBNJ under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

What are the Key Developments?

  • The Governments have been talking since 2014, and the latest round was in Feb-March 2023.
  • Even though they’ve made progress on some big things, they’re still figuring out important stuff like money, who owns ideas, and how to make everything work.
  • India’s way of taking care of nature fits with three big ideas everyone agrees on: keeping things safe, using them in a way that lasts, and making sure everyone gets a fair share.

What is the BBNJ Treaty?

  • The BBNJ Treaty, also known as the Treaty of the High Seas, is an international agreement focusing on safeguarding and responsibly utilizing marine biodiversity beyond national borders.
  • BBNJ covers the expansive high seas, areas outside countries’ exclusive economic zones or national waters, making up nearly half of the Earth’s surface.
  • These areas are largely unregulated and poorly explored, with only 1% benefiting from protective measures. This lack of regulation and understanding poses a significant challenge to preserving biodiversity.
  • Launched during the One Ocean Summit in February 2022, the High Ambition Coalition on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction unites delegations working on BBNJ negotiations, aiming for a strong and ambitious outcome at a high political level.

Key Negotiation Elements (2015 Agreement):

The negotiations revolve around crucial elements agreed upon in 2015, emphasizing:

  • Conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond national borders, with a special focus on marine genetic resources and benefit-sharing.
  • Area-based management tools, including the establishment of marine protected areas.
  • Environmental impact assessments to ensure responsible practices.
  • Capacity-building and the transfer of marine technology to enhance global cooperation in ocean protection.

In essence, the BBNJ Treaty and its ongoing negotiations represent a critical global effort to address the challenges of preserving marine biodiversity in areas that transcend national jurisdictions.

What is the Need of Legally Binding Instrument for BBNJ?

  • The health of our oceans, the well-being of coastal communities, and the sustainability of our planet depend on preserving biodiversity in areas beyond national borders.
  • These areas make up a whopping 95% of the ocean and offer essential benefits to humanity, including ecological, economic, social, cultural, scientific, and food-security advantages.
  • Unfortunately, these areas are facing increasing threats such as pollution, overexploitation, and the visible impacts of climate change.
  • The growing demand for marine resources in the future, whether for food, minerals, or biotechnology, adds to the challenges and puts these regions at risk.
  • Even the deep seafloors, considered one of the toughest habitats, are experiencing the beginnings of the extinction process.
  • Alarming statistics reveal that out of 184 assessed mollusc species, a staggering 62% are threatened, with 39 classified as critically endangered, 32 as endangered, and 43 as vulnerable.
  • Despite these concerns, the International Seabed Authority, an intergovernmental body in Jamaica, is allowing deep-sea mining contracts, further jeopardizing these fragile ecosystems.
  • It’s crucial to recognize that biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction is a global resource, and more than 60% of it still lacks proper management and regulation through a legal framework focused on conservation.


When countries officially agree to a legally binding agreement on BBNJ (Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction), it shows a powerful commitment from the global community to protect and responsibly utilize marine biodiversity in areas beyond national borders. This agreement will give a clear directive for putting the plan into action.

Read Also: The Green Climate Fund: A Catalyst for Sustainable Development

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