The ship has reached the shore

‘The ship has reached the shore’, president announces, as intergovernmental conference concludes historic new maritime biodiversity treaty


Following nearly 36 hours of non-stop negotiations, the Intergovernmental Conference today reached agreement on the text for a historic new maritime biodiversity treaty, as it adjourned its fifth resumed session.

“The ship has reached the shore,” announced Rena Lee (Singapore), Intergovernmental Conference President. As the conference room burst into thunderous applause and cheers from delegations and participants, she reported that the Conference finished the text of the agreement on marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Providing an overview of the next steps, she reported on several matters concerning the text. Regarding area-based management tools, the Conference of the Parties would decide by consensus or by voting, she said, noting that one delegation had expressed its reservation on voting.

Turning to environmental impact assessments, she said that parties are of the view that these shall be State-led. In order to promote transparency, there are provisions which allow another party to register its views on the impacts of a planned activity and for the scientific and technical body to make non-binding recommendations. However, parties understand that the State decides whether an activity under its jurisdiction or control should proceed.

Also regarding area-based management tools, she said that the article on the area of application refers to the Conference of the Parties not considering for decision proposals for the establishment of any area-based management tools, involving or including any areas within national jurisdiction.

Further, the term “the Conference of the Parties shall not consider for this session” means that the Conference of the Parties can look at a proposal but shall not decide on such proposals.

She then proposed establishing an open-ended informal working group to undertake technical edits to ensure uniformity of terminology throughout the draft text and harmonize its versions in the six official languages of the United Nations, with no reopening or discussions of substance in that group.

Following the conclusion of its work, the open-ended informal working group will report back to the Conference at a further resumed fifth session at which time the Conference will consider its work. The Conference, without a vote, decided to establish the open-ended informal working group to undertake the technical editing.

In addition, she informed the Conference that the fifth resumed session today would be suspended to allow time for technical edits and translations and would then reconvene at a later date to be decided in order to formally adopt the text in all six official languages of the United Nations.

Ms. Lee went on to express gratitude and thanked the attendes for their hard work, dedication and commitment to making the Conference a success. She said:  “I’ve had the time of my life, fighting dragons with you.”

Prior to the final negotiations, facilitators gave oral reports on discussions in the informal informals and small groups.

Also speaking today were representatives of Türkiye, the Russian Federation, Nicaragua and Cuba (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China).

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