Vietnam puts forward initiatives for global marine biodiversity conservation
UN member states, including Vietnam, have successfully reached consensus on the text of a treaty aimed at protecting the high seas, a fragile and vital treasure that covers nearly half the planet.
The Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) Agreement has received support of UN member states following years of talks, with its text being eventually finalised at an intergovernmental conference held in New York on March 5 (local time).
The agreement came just after the 40th anniversary of the adoption of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The success of the conference clearly demonstrates all countries’ political determination to conserve marine biodiversity in the high seas. This marks a historic milestone in the international community’s efforts in protecting the marine environment in support of the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, especially the Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14) relating to the conservation and sustainable use of the sea and marine resources.
The Vietnamese delegation led by Ambassador Dang Hoang Giang, head of the Vietnam Mission to the UN, made a number of proposals regarding regulations on capacity building and marine technology transfer in the interest of developing nations. They also promoted the contents of the draft document in line with the provisions relating to the international law of the sea, taking into account Vietnamese rights and interests.
The document recognised the fundamental principle that marine genetic resources are the common heritage of mankind and are the basis for all benefits derived from marine genetic resources which can be shared equally with all countries. For the first time ‘digitised sequence information on genetic resources’, which are considered as a digital asset associated with marine genetic resources, and related benefits can be shared among the whole of humanity as set out in the agreement.
The document has important implications in terms of regulating biodiversity-related activities across a wide range of oceans. With regard to the gap in access and exploitation of marine genetic resources between developed and developing countries, it marks a compromise between groups with different interests in promoting conservation and sustainable exploitation of marine genetic resources beyond national jurisdictions, capacity building, and technology transfer, while also ensuring equality in sharing benefits from the exploitation and sustainable use of genetic resources at sea.
Moving forward, UN member states are anticipated to convene another conference in order to adopt the agreement and submit it to the UN General Assembly for consideration and approval.