Madame President,

On behalf of the 50 member organizations of the High Seas Alliance, we would like to express our deep appreciation and congratulations for your leadership and foresight to bring us together at a time of uncertainty for this long-awaited fourth session of the BBNJ negotiations.  Thank you also to the Secretary-General of the Conference and DOALOS for their ever-constant efforts in supporting this work, the Facilitators for their expert guidance, and all delegations for the constructive atmosphere that has notably permeated this session. We were also heart-warmed by the many delegations that expressed their strong support for civil society observers in the conference room, and also thank all observers who have worked so collaboratively to work within these accommodations.

Madam President – though we had hoped to conclude negotiations in the four IGC sessions set forth under UNGA resolution 72/249, the global pandemic had other plans and kept us apart for over two years, making it necessary to now set our sights on one additional session to finally conclude the BBNJ treaty. These past two weeks, we are encouraged by the progress made possible by all here and the good spirit and flexibility that has pervaded throughout this session.  But we need to maintain the good will and efforts demonstrated these past two weeks, as there is much work needed ahead if we are to conclude an ambitious High Seas Treaty in 2022, in line with the commitments of many delegations in this room.

To be ambitious, the BBNJ Treaty must

(i) give the international community as a whole, acting via the COP, the responsibility for establishing effectively managed marine protected areas and protective measures to meet their objectives;

(ii) significantly strengthen the assessment and management of human activities ABNJ,

(iii) capacity building and marine technology transfer that will put all countries on a level playing field and also assist implementation of treaty obligations;

(iv) fair and equitable access and benefit sharing regime for marine genetic resources;

and (v) a decision-making process that avoids deadlocks.

These elements are necessary in order to move us beyond the status quo, which has allowed the multiple stressors that continue every hour and every day as we continue to negotiate, and threaten the ability of the ocean to sustain itself, and us.

We are encouraged by high-level political will and support with the launch of the High Ambition Coalition on BBNJ at the One Ocean Summit, as 48 Heads of State have now committed to the successful conclusion of an ambitious BBNJ treaty in 2022.  To achieve this goal, governments must turn this commitment and words into action during the intersessional, and hit the ground running, following release of a revised and streamlined draft text.

We must use the short intersessional period as productively as possible to advance the negotiations.  We recommend that a concrete plan of action be developed as soon as this fourth session is concluded, that could include Facilitators convening working and/or contact groups to engage in text-based negotiations on the many articles that will need progressing toward a common understanding.  High Seas Alliance also looks forward to continuing our work with delegations and regional groupings to assist as we can during the intersessional period.

Distinguished delegates, there is now before you the opportunity — and responsibility —  to adopt a Treaty that will deliver the legal framework that will enable the transformative change that leading scientists say is urgently needed. We call on the global community of nations, under the UN, to seize this moment for collective positive action, and truly make 2022 the Super Year for the Ocean through the successful conclusion of a landmark agreement – one that we can proudly pass down to generations to come, knowing we did all we could to safeguard the ocean and their future on a thriving, healthy planet.

Thank you very much.