GA: Conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction

Last updated: 5/7/2012 // At May 7th there was an Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction. Christine Finbak, Senior Adviser at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, held the following statement.

Norway warmly welcomes this opportunity to continue our discussion regarding how to improve our protection of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, and how to improve sustainable use of the resources in these areas. Protecting biological diversity is essential for preserving the living networks and systems that forms the basis of our existence. Marine biodiversity is still to a certain extent unexplored within as well as beyond areas of national jurisdiction.

Although we are here to discuss marine biodiversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction there is also still a lot to be done concerning conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas within national jurisdiction. In our discussions we should also bear in mind that one of the greatest challenges is to encourage and enable States to ensure protection of the environment within areas under their own national jurisdiction. Coastal States must demonstrate sufficient political will to assume this responsibility. 

Norway fully supports the important process initiated by the General Assembly in December 2011, within this ad-hoc open ended working group to ensuring that the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction effectively addresses the issues of marine genetic resources, including questions on the sharing of benefits, measures such as area-based management tools, including marine protected areas, and environmental impact assessments, capacity-building, and the transfer of marine technology.

We are very pleased that we have now initiated a process that can look further into important substantive issues. In my delegation’s opinion such issues include the concrete challenges to the marine environment, the current regulation of various activities, the need for a possible implementing agreement under the United Nation’s Convention of the Law of the Sea, what a possible implementing agreement should regulate and its relationship with existing instruments and organizations, such as for example the IMO, RFMOs and regional seas conventions or other regional environmental organizations or arrangements.

In this respect we believe that the intersessional workshops can be important in clarifying many of these important substantive issues. We look forward to fruitful discussions this week on how to organize and conduct workshops that can facilitate this important discussion.

The Rio+20 Conference on sustainable development is coming up shortly, in June, and we believe that it is important that the outcome document from Rio includes a reference to and an encouragement of the process which has been initiated within this working group. To my delegation this will give an important signal to the international community of the importance of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. It is however important that the work and the discussions on these issues are conducted within this ad-hoc open-ended working group and its workshops. We should strive this week to make the necessary progress within this working group.

My delegation looks forward to interesting discussions during the days to come.

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