The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have been closely involved in the negotiation of a new Implementing Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction - the BBNJ Agreement - as an important step forward in addressing the challenges that the ocean faces. The UK is pressing for an ambitious Agreement. It will be a key mechanism in enabling the designation of at least 30 per cent of the global ocean as Marine Protected Areas by 2030.
Unfortunately, due to the impacts of COVID-19, the fourth session of the Inter-Governmental Conference, scheduled for 23 March to 3 April in New York, was postponed. The UK is supportive of re-scheduling the fourth session for the earliest possible opportunity that will enable all delegations to be present for the negotiations in New York. The precise make-up of the UK delegation will need to take into account any social distancing measures that may be in place for the re-scheduled session, but it will be a strong delegation. The UK also strongly supports intersessional work, which is vital to ensure that we maintain momentum towards the successful conclusion of these important negotiations.