EBSAs at the UN Ocean Conference

On World Ocean Day, 8 June 2017, the CBD Secretariat and GOBI co-hosted a side event at the UN Ocean Conference in New York titled ‘Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas: special places to accelerate implementation of SDG 14’. The event attracted a high level of interest, with standing room only left in the Conference Room.

Following opening remarks on behalf of the Executive Secretary of the CBD, the event Chair David Johnson (GOBI Coordinator) explained the role of GOBI and introduced a screening of the CBD’s film on EBSAs. Presentations by Jihyun Lee (CBD Secretariat) and Piers Dunstan (CSIRO) emphasized the inspirational nature of EBSAs in describing the inherent value of marine biodiversity, and noted how the EBSA process now represents a decade of effort involving more than 150 countries. All the information on marine ecology and biodiversity that is has been made available through the EBSA process can be applied and linked to management measures, such as monitoring programmes and risk assessment models. These, together with the addition of traditional knowledge, are logical future steps.

During the following open forum panel discussion, Yoshihisa Shirayama (Executive Director at JAMSTEC) explained the Japanese national EBSA process with examples of unique biodiversity from the deep sea. This important and comprehensive process was used to inform the CBD East Asia Seas EBSA Workshop, which took place in 2015. Jake Rice (emeritus DFO Canada and IUCN-CEM-FEG) highlighted the evolving nature of the EBSA process and its collation of rich information, whilst also reiterating that EBSAs identified by CBD warrant a ‘higher degree of risk aversion’ by States and competent international organisations. Salvatore Arico (IOC/UNESCO) demonstrated how sustained ocean observations are improving, and how these datasets have informed the EBSA process. Finally, Blaise Kuemlangan (FAO) underlined the ongoing dialogue between fisheries and conservation bodies, and the synergy between EBSAs and Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs), and particularly emphasized the obligations on all stakeholders under UNCLOS for delivering SDG 14.

A full account of this side event was reported by IISD Reporting Services.

Speakers at the EBSA side event during the UN Ocean Conference, New York, 8 June 2017
Speakers at the EBSA side event during the UN Ocean Conference, New York, 8 June 2017. From left to right: Jake Rice, Yoshihisa Shirayama, Piers Dunstan, David Johnson, Salvatore Arico, Jihyun Lee, Blaise Kuemlangan.