Saturday August 27, 2022

UN session on high seas biodiversity ends without agreement

UN session on high seas biodiversity ends without agreement

Many had hoped the session would be the last and yield a final text.

UN member states ended two weeks of negotiations on Friday without a treaty to protect biodiversity in the high seas, an agreement that would have addressed growing environmental and economic challenges.

After 15 years, including four prior formal sessions, negotiators have yet to reach a legally binding text to address the multitude of issues facing international waters — a zone that encompasses almost half the planet.

"Although we did make excellent progress, we still do need a little bit more time to progress towards the finish line," said conference chair Rena Lee.


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It will now be up to the UN General Assembly to resume the fifth session at a date still to be determined.

Many had hoped the session, which began on August 15 at the United Nations headquarters in New York, would be the last and yield a final text on "the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction," or BBNJ for short.

UN session on high seas biodiversity ends without agreement
A view of the United Nations headquarters building in New York City. File photo

"While it's disappointing that the treaty wasn't finalised during the past two weeks of negotiations, we remain encouraged by the progress that was made," said Liz Karan with the NGO Pew Charitable Trusts, calling for a new session by the end of the year.

One of the most sensitive issues in the text revolved around the sharing of possible profits from the development of genetic resources in international waters, where pharmaceutical, chemical and cosmetic companies hope to find miracle drugs, products or cures.

Such costly research at sea is largely the prerogative of rich nations, but developing countries do not want to be left out of potential windfall profits drawn from marine resources that belong to no one.

Agence France-Presse

 

 

 

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