The role of Science and a Scientific Body in the future United Nations Treaty for Conservation and Sustainable Use of BBNJ (Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction).

Supervisor: Carlos Garcia-Soto (BEGIK Joint Research Unit IEO-UPV/EHU)
Covering nearly half the earth’s surface, Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) – whereno State has responsibility for management – represents the largest habitat for life on earth, yet withfragmented and limited regulations to support conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity.The UN General Assembly responded to States’ concerns regarding the poor governance of ABNJ andthe future prosperity of its resources, ecosystem services, and state of environments by initiatingnegotiations on an international legally binding instrument (ILBI) to conserve and protect itsbiodiversity. The ILBI frames four main issues known as the package deal: (1) marine geneticresources, including questions on the sharing of benefits; (2) measures such as area-based managementtools, including marine protected areas; (3) environmental impact assessments; (4) capacity buildingand the transfer of marine technology. However, with extremely different perspectives on science,legalities, technical terms, and governing powers, States have had difficulties in coming to agreementson these four issues. Thus, a Scientific and Technical Body (S&T) is to be established to effectivelypropose decisions for the guidelines, assessments, and other scientific needs required to meet themandate. While the ILBI is currently in a pause mode due to COVID-19, States are still offeringproposals to the negotiations, which are hopefully going to be determined and finalized in 2021.The main aim of this thesis was to provide effective and practical suggestions for the S&T interms of developing the role of science that needed to meet conservation and sustainable measures, amultidisciplinary organization, and collaboration and coordination of scientific advice, all in transparentand goal-oriented manners. Therefore, a thorough analyzation of the draft text of the treaty wasperformed to seek areas where scientific functions were lacking regarding the four package dealelements, as well as to improve scientific needs where information is currently disputed. Then, to betterunderstand how scientific bodies work, an in-depth comparative analysis of nine existing marinescientific bodies was performed to help make best management and organizational proposals for theS&T. Using these findings in addition to extensive literature review, the last part of this thesis concludesproposals for the S&T with a strong focus in the importance of and mechanisms for transmittingtransparency and effective, translatable scientific advice.Ultimately, these results determine the role of science for the S&T to serve as an overarchingframework to protect and conserve the biodiversity in ABNJ, while coordinating with existing andfuture relevant instruments and bodies, by offering proposals in its scientific function, organization, andmethods in delivering scientific advice. In the large scope of this analysis, this thesis helps inform themarine scientific and political community in developing mechanisms and models to help achieveconservation goals, not only for the S&T, but also for similar bodies, while pertaining to the importanceof utilizing the best available science, and transparently communicating science and advice.