The High Seas Treaty Symposium

Design sans titre-2
From negotiation to implementation
6-7 October 2023 – Edinburgh, UK & online
Following on the historical KMGBF adoption in December last year, March 2023 has also marked a landmark moment as delegates at the United Nations finalized negotiations on a legally binding treaty text to conserve and sustainably use marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ).

After decades of work and negotiations, delegates succeeded in pulling together the fragmented regime of regulations and bodies that manage how humanity uses two-thirds of the world’s oceans.In the continuation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KMGBF), the conclusion of substantive negotiations on the BBNJ Agreement represents a major milestone for the protection of biodiversity and marine ecosystems in areas beyond national jurisdiction, including the high seasThe High Seas Treaty  has been signed by 67 countries on September 20th, in the margins of the UN High Level week. 
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen signs the High Seas Treaty next to Pedro Sánchez, Spanish Prime Minister.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen signs the High Seas Treaty next to Pedro Sánchez, Spanish Prime Minister. ©️ oceans-and-fisheries.ec.europa.eu

It is now up to States to apply the legal framework established in the Agreement in an ambitious and collective manner for the health of the high seas, if political targets such as the 30 x 30 target (establishing 30 percent of protected areas on land and sea by 2030) agreed upon under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are to be reached.

Now that the legal text has been agreed, it is essential to identify and explore the opportunities for successfully implementing the agreement to achieve its biodiversity conservation and sustainability objectives. This two-day symposium at the University of Edinburgh critically evaluated the potential challenges and opportunities for the implementation of the BBNJ Agreement.

“Our project is thrilled to be able to support the discussions on the High Seas Treaty, as this agreement will be crucial to achieve the KMGBF  Target 3 by contributing to protect 30% of sea areas by 2030. We are looking forward to following the discussions of the outstanding experts gathered in Edinburgh and hope that this will help push the implementation of the treaty forward.”

Hugo RIVERA, Team Leader, Post 2020 Biodiversity Framework – EU Support

The symposium included keynotes from leading authorities in each of the four pillars of the agreement:

  1. Marine genetic resources, including questions on benefit-sharing;
  2. Measures such as area-based management tools (ABMTs), including marine protected areas (MPAs);
  3. Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs);
  4. Capacity building and the transfer of marine technology.

As a panelist for the DAY1 – Session 4 on Capacity building and the transfer of marine technology, Julia Schutz Veiga, PhD candidate in Law at NOVA School of Law, and Fellow of the Ocean Voices Programme, highlighted the crucial role of scientific research in improving the understanding of the marine environment and in ensuring the efficient use of this knowledge through innovative techniques.

As a panelist for the DAY 2 – Session 11, entitled Hitting the ground running: preparations for COP16, Philippe Raposo, a diplomat at the Economic Department of the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, outlined the importance of financial mechanisms for the implementation of the BBNJ agreement and various funding sources that need to be considered.

“Various sources of financing, such as dedicated funds, public-private partnerships, and voluntary contributions, can be harnessed to implement the BBNJ agreement. These financial resources can be used for activities ranging from scientific research and monitoring to the establishment of marine protected areas and capacity building in developing countries, ultimately contributing to the sustainable management and protection of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction. “

Philippe RAPOSO, Diplomat, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil.

During the session dedicated to Marine genetic resources, focusing on the issues of sharing benefits. Dr. Ariana Broggiato, from the European Commission offered valuable remarks on the role of marine genetic resources and gave insights of the specificities of the BBNJ treaty.

Panel debates and audience discussions structured around key cross-cutting issues focused on determining the effectiveness of the BBNJ Agreement.

Watch our videos:​

LATEST Articles

LATEST resources