Marine Environment: Treaties

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 25th June 2020.

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Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady SNP Chief Whip

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether a senior UK Government Minister plans to attend the fourth session of the Inter-Governmental Conference when it is re-scheduled.

Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady SNP Chief Whip

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether the Government plans to invite any representatives from the Scottish Government to join a delegation to the fourth session of the Inter-Governmental Conference when it is rescheduled.

Photo of James Duddridge James Duddridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

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.

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