PrepCom4, the fourth and most likely final meeting of the Preparatory Committee for ocean biodiversity established by the United Nation’s General Assembly (UNGA), will convene from 10-21 July 2017 at the UN Headquarters in New York. This session aims to finalise a set of substantive recommendations to inform negotiations on a legally binding instrument on the “conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ)” under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), UNGA resolution 69/292 from 2015.

The EU-funded ATLAS project has set out to understand deep Atlantic ecosystems, including ABNJ, and how human society appreciates and values them. Balancing the needs of society and exploring sustainable economic Blue Growth with a long-term strategy that maintains ocean ecosystems for generations to come is a serious challenge. ATLAS is therefore particularly interested in contributing to two of the total of four ‘package’ topics for the Preparatory Committee: marine genetic resources, and conservation and management tools.

Along with the other two package topics (governance, and capacity-building and the transfer of marine technology) the recommendations at the end of the PrepCom4 meeting will feed into the above mentioned legally binding instrument. Making progress in addressing these issues requires the integration of the best available scientific advice on different ocean scales and ecosystems.

Several ATLAS partners have already contributed to the previous PrepCom sessions held during 2016 and 2017, and will continue their efforts during PrepCom4 to raise awareness of the importance of including deep-sea science. Scientists have shown that the deep North Atlantic supports diverse ecosystems which are crucial to the cycling of primary production, carbon, and nutrients from the ocean surface to the deep seafloor. These diverse deep-water ecosystems provide us with goods and services, including fisheries and biotechnology opportunities, which are central to our well-being and have great potential for future economic activities.

The PrepCom4 meeting marks a key point in a very long and historic process to protect biodiversity in ABNJ under UNCLOS. With growing pressure for an effective and comprehensive global regime to better address the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of ABNJ, these efforts to develop a legally binding instrument are very timely.

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For further meeting updates and associated documents, please visit: http://www.un.org/depts/los/biodiversity/prepcom.htm