After nearly two decades, the protection of biodiversity and marine life beyond the national jurisdictions is within reach with the ratification of the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) Agreement by over 70 countries, 11 of which are Pacific Island countries.
Yesterday, the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner, with representatives of member countries, hosted a side event at the 52nd Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting, celebrating the ratification of the BBNJ Agreement.
Pacific Oceans Commission Dr. Filimon Manini said that the achievement of this major milestone for the Pacific was made possible with the Pacific delegations’ efforts to successfully complete the negotiations, ensuring that Pacific priorities were included in the text.
The Office of Oceans Commissioner has been tasked to work with CROP agencies and partners to help members sign the treaty and provide coordinated regional support for the members’ implementation of the treaty.
President Surangel Whipps Jr., in his remarks, said, “We are proud of one of us – FSM – the first to sign this crucial agreement on the margin of the 78th UN General Assembly when world leaders gathered in NY. It was monumental for us, considering nearly two decades of dedicated discussions. This achievement stands as a testament to our unwavering commitment to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond national borders.”
The BBNJ Agreement means to the people of the Pacific, said President Whipps, preservation of biodiversity in the Pacific, scientific research advancements that “enhance our understanding of the oceans and contribute to the global body of marine scientific study,” promote sustainable fisheries, enhance climate resilience and reinforces the position of the pacific countries as stewards of the oceans.
“We now have a foundation to ensure that our work on the conservation and protection of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction continue into the future. Now, there needs to be delivery of adequate funding, support for the development of capacity, including our science expertise as well as the transfer and development of technologies,” said Minister for Trade and Economic Development of Tonga, Hon. Viliami Latu.
“As we revel in this achievement, we must also focus on the path forward. The BBNJ Agreement represents a victory for the Pacific and presents us with the responsibility to implement its provisions effectively,” stated President Whipps.