REMARKS: New Biodiversity Treaty for Oceans is “vital” for Pacific 2050- Forum SG Puna opens Blue Pacific Talanoa BBNJ Webinar

Blue Pacific Talanoa Webinar on

Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction

March 24, 2023

Opening Remarks 

by Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General

Henry Puna


1. Excellencies, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends, Kia Orana and warm Pacific greetings. I am delighted to welcome you to this first session of a talanoa series, related to the important issue of Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdictions…BBNJ.

2. As many of you are aware, over two weeks ago, we witnessed history in the finalization of the global agreement on BBNJ. In the words of the President of the Conference of the Parties, Rena Lee, “The ship has finally reached the shore, bringing with it a new chapter on the law of the sea”.

3. Friends, the journey has not been without its challenges, and I am told the final hurdle included a closing negotiation session, that ran for 36 hours straight, until the final brackets were taken out!

4. This is a proud moment for us, which continues the legacy of our forebears, who negotiated UNCLOS and its implementing agreements, including the Fish stocks Agreement. Today, I have a special thought for Ambassador Satya Nandan of Fiji, one of the main architects of the modern Law of the Sea, who would have had a lot to say, I am sure.

5. As Secretary General, I am proud the Treaty has drawn to a close, given its links with our 2050 Strategy. Further, I also see this instrument as enhancing our “Ocean Continent” vision, by strengthening our ability to govern and manage the high seas, in complement to the management of our national jurisdictions, and our fight to combat the impacts of climate change, on our ocean and shores.

6. I was fortunate to visit New York during the final stretch of the negotiations, following the Forum Leaders retreat. I conveyed to our negotiators the call from our Leaders, for the expeditious conclusion of the negotiations. They stuck to the game plan, and they delivered!

7. I congratulate all our Pacific negotiators for representing our interests, and getting this new treaty across the line, with so many Pacific imprints.

8. I thank our representatives in New York, for their engagement and trust throughout the process, including during the intersessional period. Meitaki ma’ata.

9. I also thank our experts from Regional Organisations, in particular FFA, SPC, and SPREP, who have worked hand in hand together, and with my team at the Secretariat and in OPOC, to provide valuable support to our members. We are also very thankful to the members of the Pacific Ocean Alliance, who have provided support and inputs to our members.

10. Lastly, I wish to convey my heart-felt gratitude to the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, for their generous support through OPOC, which enabled Members’ participation throughout the negotiations. Vinaka vakalevu big brothers!!

11. Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish you well for this talanoa, and with the Treaty now in place, I seek your perspectives and reflections, as to how we may voyage towards becoming a region of security, prosperity and wellbeing, with this vital, enabling instrument now in place.


12. I thank you.

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