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Chile formalizes its proposal to host the Secretariat of the United Nations BBNJ treaty

Thursday, March 9th 2023

Chile, in line with its historical position in favor of the ocean governance, seeks to host the Secretariat of the Treaty for the Conservation of Biodiversity beyond Areas of National Jurisdiction (BBNJ), an instrument whose text It was adopted last Saturday at the United Nations, with the aim of working on the regulation and protection of marine biodiversity in areas and spaces that are outside national jurisdictions.

For the Minister of Foreign Relations, Antonia Urrejola, “we make this proposal with responsibility and conviction. Bringing the BBNJ Secretariat to Chile is bringing international governance to a country in the global south. Likewise, it is a way of generating bridges towards the creation of knowledge in research centers, towards indigenous peoples and traditional knowledge”.

In addition, she emphasized that “the high seas represent 60% of the earth's surface, and yet until today there has not been a comprehensive regime that promotes cooperation and coherence in global ocean governance beyond exclusive economic zones. Therefore, this agreement comes to address a very important gap in international law, and Chile wants to be a central actor in its implementation."

The treaty seeks, among other things, to strengthen ocean governance, create new policies for the conservation and sustainability of marine biological diversity, including marine protected areas on the high seas, as well as to promote the sustainable use of marine genetic resources; assess environmental impacts and carry out an equitable distribution of benefits, especially for the benefit of developing countries.

The proposal to establish the headquarters of BBNJ in Chile is consistent with the vocation and history of our country, characterized by participating in the oceanic economy, projecting itself as a door to the Pacific Ocean and, furthermore, having been a relevant actor in the negotiations on the law of the sea for decades. For this reason, during these years, through a national delegation that included the Permanent Mission of Chile to the United Nations, representatives of the Foreign Ministry, ministries and national entities, the country has actively participated in the multilateral negotiations at the United Nations to formulate, together with other States, the BBNJ treaty.

Establishing the Secretariat of this international instrument in the country can bring benefits both at the local and national levels. It can be a contribution and an opportunity, among others, for the scientific community and national universities, since the treaty has a fundamental chapter of construction of capacities and technology transfer, as well as governance for the actions that countries wish to develop on the high seas. “We are aware of the special effort that will be expected from us as the host country of BBNJ. Chile will facilitate this process, with realism, transparency and political will, to ensure that the implementation of BBNJ is a success”, said the Foreign Minister.

Through this proposal, the country ratifies its commitment to sustainable economic and environmental policies, especially in the ocean, where our country has decided to have a permanent policy within the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS ), of which our country has been a part since 1997.

The decision on where the Secretariat will be located is expected to be made at the first BBNJ COP, once the treaty enters into force. We are confident that Chile is the best place to start the process of this treaty, and for this reason, we will continue working and collaborating so that the BBNJ is successful to protect biodiversity on the high seas.