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The High Seas Treaty Symposium


06.10. – 07.10.2023


Edinburgh, UK & online


In March 2023, delegates at the United Nations finalised negotiations on a legally binding treaty text to conserve and sustainably use marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). This landmark ‘BBNJ Agreement’ represents the culmination of decades of work to pull together the fragmented regime of regulations and bodies that manage how humanity uses two-thirds of the world’s ocean.

The conclusion of substantive negotiations for the BBNJ Agreement represents a major milestone for the protection of biodiversity and marine ecosystems in areas beyond national jurisdiction, including the high seas. However, it will remain up to States to apply the legal framework established in the Agreement in an ambitious and collective manner for the health of the high seas, if political targets such as the 30 x 30 target (establishing 30 percent of protected areas on land and sea by 2030) agreed upon under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are to be reached. Now that the legal text has been agreed, it is essential to identify and explore the opportunities for successfully implementing the Agreement to achieve its biodiversity conservation and sustainability objectives. This two-day symposium at the University of Edinburgh will critically evaluate the potential challenges and opportunities for the implementation of the BBNJ Agreement.

The symposium will include keynotes from leading authorities in each of the four pillars of the agreement:

  1. Marine genetic resources, including questions on the sharing of benefits;
  2. Measures such as area-based management tools (ABMTs), including marine protected areas (MPAs);
  3. Environmental impact assessments (EIAs);
  4. Capacity-building and the transfer of marine technology.

Panel debate and audience discussion will be structured around core cross-cutting issues that will determine the effectiveness of the BBNJ Agreement.

Find more details here: