Statement by the H.E. Jeem S. Lippwe, Permanent Representative, New York, 19 June 2023

Intergovernmental Conference on an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction – third substantive session

Madam President,

First we want to thank you for your tireless efforts to bring the BBNJ negotiations to a successful conclusion. We would not have achieved what we accomplished up to this day if not for your commitment as President and without the support from the broad membership.

As Micronesia we were proud to support you in the bureau and to coordinate for the Pacific SIDS on Area-based management tools, including MPAs. As small island developing States, with our peoples residing in many countries widely dispersed and distanced from each other, we have great solidarity throughout our vast Pacific Ocean region.  We realize how closely our Ocean spaces are linked with our well-being and our long-term survival and that of humankind, so it was natural that we had to work together to identify our shared concerns, and design our common approaches.

We welcome today’s adoption of the Agreement.

I pause here to align our statement with those delivered on behalf of the G77 and China, AOSIS, the Pacific Islands Forum and the Pacific SIDS.

It is not possible in the brief time I have to describe in detail what we as an international community have achieved today.  We have broken ground on a number of important issues, with far-reaching legal implications. We are operationalizing how to deal with the rights and entitlements of adjacent coastal States, in particular how the Agreement deals with potential impacts from measures and activities regulated by the Agreement on the extended continental shelves and exclusive economic zones of those States, as well as the high-seas pockets those States surround.  We are fleshing out the provisions of the Convention on EIAs, establishing a tiered approach that incorporates a progressive threshold of minor or transitory effects and providing for robust input from the international community throughout the entire EIA process and associated decision-making, including for planned activities on land and other areas within national jurisdiction that could potentially impact areas beyond national jurisdiction.  We are also recognizing the relevance of the Traditional Knowledge of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities as a valuable source of information for the Agreement on par with the best available science and scientific information, and allowing for the use of such knowledge as long as it is in line with the free, prior, and informed consent and all other rights of the holders of such knowledge. On MGRs we are enabling future research for the benefit of all humankind rather than the interests of a fortunate few, including key provisions on the sharing of all types of benefits with developing countries from the utilization of DSI on MGRs. On ABMTs, including MPAs, we now have a process on how to identify and establish them in areas beyond national jurisdiction which will, among other things, be vital to achieve the goal of 30 by 30 adopted by the international community last December in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and enhance the resilience of the Ocean in the face of worsening climate change and Ocean acidification.

But now is not only the time to reflect on the past but rather look to the future. We have cleared one hurdle but important work remains ahead. We need to assure that the Agreement comes into force as soon as possible. We therefore firmly believe that when our Heads of State and Government and other High Officials gather here a few months from now during the 78th session at the high-level week, it will be in all our mutual interest to act and sign the Agreement, and then proceed to the rapid ratification and entry into force of the Agreement. We also have important steps to take until the entry into force of the Agreement. We need to designate DOALOS as the interim Secretariat for the Agreement, as well as to start identifying a permanent one. We hope that it would be located in a developing country. Further work will be needed in preparation for the entry into force of the Agreement and the first meeting of its Conference of Parties, and we support an early start in this respect.

I thank you.