Issue 69 | 08 March 2023
For SIDS, the ocean is more than just an engine of livelihoods, commerce, and energy production. It is the inheritance of generations, and the people of SIDS see this gift as a responsibility. As existing and emerging anthropogenic pressures continue to increasingly compromise the oceans’ heath, urgent action to combat biodiversity and habitat loss in the oceans, both within and outside national jurisdictions, is critical for SIDS to enhance their climate resilience and sustain vibrant blue economies.
On 4 March 2023, and after more than a decade of discussions, an agreement for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) has been completed. The final text still needs to be adopted, but the agreement has been described as historic. Before the agreement, Mr. Henry Puna, Secretary General, Pacific Islands Forum and Pacific Ocean Commissioner declared in his statement to the resumed fifth session of the Intergovernmental Conference “together with other agreements, it would represent a ‘whole ocean’ approach, particularly on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.”
Indeed, the current document has many implications for our planet and the oceans and also fully recognizes the “special circumstances of small island developing States”. It provides the legal means to realize the 30 by 30 pledge made in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) and it offers guidelines to ensure the assessment of environmental impacts of human activities both within national jurisdiction and areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ). This is of critical importance to SIDS as marine processes do not recognize boundaries. In addition, ensuring fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from activities with respect to marine genetic resources of the high seas as well as transfer of marine capacity and capacity-building would allow SIDS to benefit from ABNJ but also to be empowered to sustainably benefit from the resources within their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) representing 19.1 percent of the world’s EEZs.
In this bulletin we feature innovations and initiatives across the SIDS regions in coral restoration, digital health, disaster risk reduction, and an exclusive interview with His Excellency Mr. Fatumanava-o-Upolu III Dr. Pa'olelei Luteru, Permanent Representative of Samoa to the UN and Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), who celebrated the new BBNJ agreement as it can "bridge the capacity gap, and have co-benefits advancing a number of priorities including SDG14 and the SAMOA Pathway, as well as its successor agreement.”
Read the full bulletin here.