Exploring opportunities for the scientific community from the BBNJ Agreement  

What are the implications and opportunities for the scientific community arising from the international agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ Agreement)? An informal roundtable organised by the Deep-Ocean Stewardship Initiative (DOSI) addressed this question on 1 June 2023, on the side-lines of the International Symposium on Deep-Sea Corals at the University of Edinburgh, UK. 

Participants exchanged experiences in undertaking research in areas beyond national jurisdiction, or the deep-sea in general, and in contributing to the negotiations of the BBNJ Agreement. They then reflected on what the BBNJ Agreement means for the research communities and what new opportunities it opens up for the research community to shape the direction of international cooperation on the deep sea.  

Hub Director Elisa Morgera was invited to share views on the opportunities to enhance international scientific cooperation, through fair partnerships between the Global North and South, in the context of the strategic environmental assessments, as an area for mutual capacity building and technology co-development, including on research on the ocean genome. Participants reflected on who will bear the costs of strategic environmental assessments, and opportunities in the new BBNJ institutions for scientists to contribute to the development of guidelines based on good practices. 

The informal roundtable was organised by Christine Gaebel (DOSI and University of Edinburgh), who summarised key areas for future capacity-building workshops for by DOSI members. The University of Edinburgh is also organising a High Seas Treaty symposium on 6-7 October 2023. 

The Hub-led special issue of TheInternational Journal of Marine and Coastal Law on the ocean-climate change nexus and human rights, which is about to be published online, will contain a series of articles that reflect on the novelties and opportunities of the BBNJ Agreement, including with regard to ocean-based climate measures, fair ocean research partnerships, children’s human rights, and plastic pollution. 

Related SDGs:

  • Reduced inequality
  • Climate action
  • Life below water
  • Peace, justice and strong institutions