IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


9th March, 2024 International News


Copyright infringement not intended

Picture Courtesy: https://twitter.com/GlobalTuna/status/1496781824206700546

Context: Belgium hosted the Blue Leaders High-Level Event on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) to encourage governments to ratify a new convention to safeguard the high seas from pollution, climate change, and overfishing.


  • On March 7, 2024, the Blue Leaders High-Level Event on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) was held in Belgium. The conference attempted to influence nations to sign the BBNJ Treaty, which addresses issues like pollution, climate change, and overfishing on the high seas.
  • In March 2023, nations signed the BBNJ Treaty, which aims to conserve and sustainably use marine biological diversity outside national authority. The treaty focuses on challenges that extend beyond 200 nautical miles from coastal countries.
  • Participants at the Blue Leaders Event supported using the United Nations Ocean Conference in 2025 to bring the BBNJ Treaty into action.

About BBNJ Treaty

  • The BBNJ Treaty, or Agreement on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction, is a significant international agreement which was adopted in March 2023.
  • It bridges a major gap in international law by establishing a legal framework for nations to collaborate on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, which cover more than two-thirds of the world's oceans.
  • The treaty seeks to address increasing threats to the ecosystems of the high seas, such as pollution, climate change, and overfishing.
  • By establishing a framework for international collaboration, the BBNJ Treaty has the potential to significantly enhance human activity at sea and ensure the long-term health of marine ecosystems.
  • To enter into force and become legally binding, the BBNJ Treaty must be ratified by 60 countries. As of March 2024, 88 countries have signed the treaty, but only two have ratified it (Chile and Palau). There are concerns that it will take a long time to get the 60 ratifications required for the treaty to officially come into effect.

Goals of the BBNJ Treaty

  • To increase protected areas on the high seas (now only 1.44%). This is important for maintaining healthy marine ecosystems and the biodiversity they support. Marine protected areas (MPAs) can help recover fish stocks, protect endangered species, and conserve vital habitats.
  • To promote a fair distribution of income from marine genetic resources (MGRs). Marine genetic resources (MGRs) are any genetic material obtained from the marine environment with potential applications in medicine, industry, and agriculture. The Treaty seeks to ensure that profits from the use of MGRs are shared fairly and equitably among all countries.
  • To develop guidelines for environmental impact assessments (EIAs) for activities such as deep-sea mining. EIAs are critical for ensuring that human activities at sea are done sustainably. The Treaty will require governments to conduct EIAs before approving activities that may harm the maritime environment.

Key Challenges

  • The treaty must be ratified by 60 countries before it may enter into force. This may take time because some countries are hesitant to agree to the treaty's obligations.
  • Even after ratification, governments must figure out how the treaty will operate in practice. This includes developing a decision-making process, forming a scientific body to provide recommendations, and securing funds to support the treaty's implementation.
  • The current level of protection for marine regions on the high seas is far too low. The BBNJ Treaty provides a framework for establishing additional marine protected areas, but broad international collaboration is required to meet the ambitious objective of safeguarding 30% of the world's oceans by 2030.
  • To ensure the effectiveness of EIAs, significant scientific support is required, which may need the use of additional resources. Effective EIAs are built on a solid scientific foundation. However, the BBNJ Treaty does not currently provide for direct funding of scientific research to support EIA processes. This could be a possible gap that must be filled to ensure the effectiveness of EIAs.

India's Stand on the BBNJ Treaty

  • India has not yet ratified the treaty but has advocated for its implementation at the G20 meeting in 2023. This approach indicates that India recognizes the significance of the BBNJ Treaty and the objectives it seeks to achieve.
  • India's huge coastline and rising maritime interests make its involvement critical for the BBNJ Treaty to achieve widespread international support and effectively implement its provisions.
  • If India signs the treaty, it will send a powerful signal to other countries in the region and around the world, encouraging them to do the same. This has the potential to significantly accelerate the ratification process and bring the treaty into force sooner.
  • India's expertise in marine science and technology could be useful in creating and implementing BBNJ Treaty regulations and best practices.


  • The BBNJ Treaty is an important step in protecting the high seas, but more effort needs to be made to ensure its effectiveness and immediate implementation. Through strong international cooperation, the BBNJ Treaty has the potential to make a significant contribution to the ocean's health and sustainability.

Must Read Articles:

UN HIGH SEAS TREATY: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/un-high-seas-treaty-20#:~:text=Its%20official%20name%20is%20Biodiversity,which%20are%20vital%20to%20humanity.


Q. The Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) Treaty aims to increase maritime protected areas. Why are these regions essential to safeguarding marine biodiversity, and what are some of the challenges associated with establishing them on the high seas?