Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) Treaty


    In News

    • The Indian Ministry of Earth Science urges United Nations (UN) member nations to remain dedicated to the conservation and preservation of oceans and their biodiversity.


    • India urges UN Member Nations to support conservation and sustainable economic development under UNCLOS.
    • There is a need for determination among states to support global organizations for effective agreement on protection and sustainable use of marine biodiversity.
    • There is a need to resolve challenges including focus on funding, intellectual property rights, and institutional mechanisms.
    • Member states can work  on Capacity building, transfer of marine technology and Environmental Impact Assessment.
    • It has also asked to support sustainable economic development and the well-being of coastal people under the United Nation’s Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS).
    • India has also voiced its support for the high ambition coalition for the early conclusion of the International Legally Binding Instrument Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) under UNCLOS.
    • Adoption of the BBNJ agreement signals international commitment to conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity.
    • Need for a legal framework aimed at conservation for Vital resources for global seas with more than 60% yet to be managed and regulated

    Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ)

    • It refers to the marine biodiversity found in areas beyond national jurisdiction, which accounts for more than 60% of the world’s oceans.
    • It is not regulated by any legal framework aimed at conservation, making it vulnerable to over-exploitation and degradation.

    Importance of biodiversity conservation:

    • Ecosystem services: Biodiversity provides a range of ecosystem services, such as air and water purification, climate regulation, pollination, and soil fertility, which are essential for human well-being.
    • Economic benefits: Biodiversity supports economic activities such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and tourism, which generate livelihoods and income for millions of people around the world.
    • Medical advances: Many of the medicines used to treat illnesses and diseases are derived from plants and animals found in nature.
    • Cultural and spiritual values: It is an integral part of many cultures and religions, and is valued for its aesthetic, recreational, and spiritual benefits.
    • Conservation of endangered species: Biodiversity conservation helps to protect endangered species and prevent their extinction, which can have far-reaching ecological and social impacts.

    Challenges of Biodiversity conservation:

    • Habitat Loss and Fragmentation: Human activities such as deforestation, mining, and land-use change have led to the loss and fragmentation of habitats, which in turn have caused a decline in biodiversity.
    • Climate Change: Climate change is causing significant changes in temperature and precipitation patterns, leading to alterations in ecosystems, shifts in species’ ranges, and changes in the timing of life cycle events.
    • Overexploitation: Overfishing, hunting, and harvesting of natural resources have resulted in the depletion of many species, with some facing the threat of extinction.
    • Pollution: Pollution from industrial activities, agriculture, and urbanization has led to the contamination of soil, water, and air, which has adversely affected biodiversity.
    • Invasive Species: Invasive species, introduced intentionally or unintentionally by humans, can outcompete native species for resources and lead to their decline.
    • Lack of Political Will: Despite the importance of biodiversity conservation, many governments have not made it a priority, and international efforts have not always been effective due to a lack of political will.
    • Limited Resources: Conservation efforts require significant financial resources, which may not always be available or allocated adequately.

    India’s Approach to Biodiversity Management:

    • India has been actively involved in the negotiations for the development of an international legally binding instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of BBNJ under the United Nation’s Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS).
    • India’s legislative framework, the “Biodiversity Act of 2002,” reflects the country’s commitment to conservation, sustainable usage, and equitable benefit sharing.
    • India supports the establishment of new institutions or the strengthening of existing ones with a robust democratic way of functioning.
    • India has been focusing on capacity building and transfer of marine technology, and Environmental Impact Assessment.

    United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS)

    • It is an international treaty that was adopted in 1982 and entered into force in 1994.
    • It provides a comprehensive framework for the use and conservation of the world’s oceans, including guidelines for maritime boundaries, navigation, resource management, and environmental protection.
    • It has been ratified by 168 countries, including India, making it one of the most widely accepted treaties in the world.
    • It recognizes the rights and responsibilities of coastal states in their respective maritime zones, including the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which extends 200 nautical miles from a country’s coast.
    • UNCLOS has also provided the legal basis for many international agreements related to the oceans, including:
      • Convention on Biological Diversity(CBD)
      • International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL
      • Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

    Way ahead

    • There is a need for the international community to come together and reach a consensus on a legally binding instrument that addresses the conservation and sustainable use of BBNJ.
    • The instrument must also address issues such as equitable benefit sharing, capacity building, and transfer of marine technology.
    • There is a need to enhance scientific knowledge about marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
    • Overall, the conservation of biodiversity is essential for ensuring a healthy planet and a sustainable future for all living beings.

    Source: DTE