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UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 27th June 2012.

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Photo of Zac Goldsmith Zac Goldsmith Conservative, Richmond Park

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to the answer of 19 April 2012, Official Report, column 500W, on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, what agreements were reached on the conservation of marine biodiversity at the meeting of the UN working group on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction.

Photo of Richard Benyon Richard Benyon The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The UN working group on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction agreed to continue the dialogue on the possibility of a new implementing agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity, but was unable to agree that a recommendation on the initiation of a new implementing agreement should be put to the next meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. The detailed recommendations of the working group were that the next UN General Assembly should:

(a) Welcome the “first meeting of the working group within the process initiated by the General Assembly” with a view to ensuring that the legal framework for the conservation and use of Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction addresses issues by identifying gaps and ways forward including through the implementation of existing instruments, and the possible development of a multilateral agreement under UNCLOS, and takes note of the exchange of views at the meeting on aspects of issues referred to in the co-chairs’ summary of discussion, some of which will be discussed during the inter-sessional workshops;

(b) Request the Secretary-General to convene, within existing resources, two inter-sessional workshops before the sixth meeting of the working group on (i) marine genetic resources (ii) conservation and management tools, including area based management and environmental impact assessment's;

(c) Request the working group, at its next meeting, to continue the consideration of all issues under its mandate, taking into account the discussions at its fifth meeting, as well as the input of the inter-sessional workshops, and provide recommendations to the 68th session of the General Assembly to make progress on ways forward to fulfil the mandate provided in Resolution 66/231;

(d) Request the Secretary-General to convene a meeting of the working group in the second half of 2013; and

(e) Request the Secretary-General to use existing trust funds, through earmarked contributions, to facilitate the participation of panellists and representatives from developing countries in the inter-sessional workshops, and invite member states, international financial institutions and others to make financial contributions to these trust funds.

The need to address issues concerning conservation and sustainable use of marine diversity was reaffirmed at Rio+20. The outcome of this meeting clearly indicated that a decision on whether a new Implementing Agreement should be negotiated should be taken before the end of UNGA69 in 2014. The Government will continue to press for the need for a new agreement to cover, in particular, the need for marine protected areas in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

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