PNAS: Transformational opportunities for an equitable ocean commons


A frontier mentality has been a defining aspect of human history. Often this sentiment is optimistically framed in the language of aspirations and opportunities. But it can also be accompanied by unsavory narratives of over-exploitation, inequity, and conflict. If any place on Earth can be considered a final frontier, it is perhaps the ocean’s “areas beyond national jurisdiction” (ABNJ), which are both distant (generally starting some 370 km from coastlines) and vast (covering nearly 40% of the planet’s surface). It is also the subject of ongoing United Nations negotiations for a treaty on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity found in areas beyond national jurisdiction (typically shortened to BBNJ, However, if current trajectories of expansion of human activities in the ocean continue, we are at the crossroad of deciding whether this rapidly receding frontier will bring the economic and social benefits that drive progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Agenda or further cement global inequities

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