The second article that Elizabeth Mendenhall, Elizabeth Nyman and Elizabeth De Santo and I have written about the BBNJ negotiations in Marine Policy is published – and my fourth article about the negotiations in total so far (two more are under review – and we have at least three more on the writing block).
This article that we published today – as the third substantive session of negotiations started yesterday in NYC – is a review and our perspectives on the second round of negotiations that took place in March and April of this year – published in Marine Policy.
The United Nations is halfway through the scheduled negotiations for a new legally binding instrument to govern biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). This paper discusses the results of the second intergovernmental BBNJ conference, which took place March 25 – April 5, 2019, and analyzes the trends, variables, and obstacles shaping the emerging agreement. The paper considers the discussion surrounding each of the four elements of the BBNJ agenda in turn: area based management tools including marine protected areas, environmental impact assessments, marine genetic resources and access and benefit sharing, and capacity building and technology transfer. At the second session of negotiations, progress towards consensus on the four major elements of the BBNJ package was limited and uneven. Drawing on close observations, interviews with a variety of participants, and document analysis, we conclude that the dictum that the new BBNJ agreement “should not undermine” existing elements of the ocean governance regime serves to inhibit movement towards a consensual and effective instrument.