Suva, Fiji – After two weeks of intense and complex negotiations on a new treaty to conserve and sustainably use biological diversity beyond national jurisdiction, the Pacific Islands Forum is calling for increased level of ambitions from State Parties.
Delivering the Forum statement Tuvalu’s Head of Delegation, the Assistant Secretary for Ministry of Natural Resources Asela Peneueta said the instrument must be inclusive and ensure no one is left behind. It should also consider the interests of adjacent States.
That, he said meant that any activity which is likely to be a potential threat or harm any national jurisdiction nearby to the proposed activity, then it should be mandatory to consult and take into account the views of that coastal State.
The Forum members reiterated the critical importance to recognized the role of traditional knowledge in the process, as well as support the special circumstances of small island developing states.
He said that included working with the President of the IGC Ambassador Reena Lee of Singapore and with other delegations in a constructive and cooperative manner to build the necessary bridges and merge the range of options they have.
For the past two weeks, the negotiators have been discussing the zero draft which included 70 Articles, covering four thematic areas including Marine Genetic Resources including benefit-sharing, Area Based Management Tools including Marine Protected Areas, Environmental Impact Assessment, Capacity Building and Technology Transfer, as well as cross cutting issues including institutional arrangement or overall objectives.
The sessions were organized in informal working groups and the parallel informal informal sessions. While the informal working group is more formal in approach, the negotiators have more freedom to speak and discuss their positions openly in the closed informal informal sessions.
IGC President Reena Lee of Singapore said the revised draft text would not be ready soon, as requested by Parties to the negotiations.
Two Pacific women took the lead roles in facilitating two of the four thematic issues of the draft treaty.
Palau Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Olai Uludong facilitated the Capacity Building and Technology Transfer session while New Zealand Head of Delegation Alice Revell facilitated the Area Based Management Tool including Marine Protected Areas session.
Ambassador Uludong believes it is important for the Pacific to be part of this discussion.
“This treaty is important to all of us. If we don’t control the expectation of the resources in the high seas and we give in to the need to develop, then we are liable for the impacts that come with it.
“Being a woman from the Pacific and facilitating one of the last remaining treaties of the world in oceans, why not.”
Ms Revell explained that in her session the members of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) discussed the different tools existing including fisheries closure, shipping regulation and marine spatial planning where they need to cooperate if they are to set some rules.
‘At the moment there are some rules about fishing, shipping and deep sea mining. They are set by themselves and don’t join together.What we want to do here is to create a holistic system that leads to work together effectively so we can achieve good conservation and sustainable use for our ocean.”
The next session of negotiations is scheduled for the last two weeks of March next year.
A revised draft will be provided in advance of this fourth IGC PIF delegations met on the margins of the IGC 3 to plan out the inter-sessional work, agreeing to double their efforts to make good on the Leaders’ commitments.
“We understand there is still much left to be done. With our commitment as stewards of the ocean, the Pacific Island Forum continues to stand ready in doing our part,” concluded Mr Peneuta.