SCELG Oceans Update

Recent months have seen a number of exciting SCELG activities on the oceans front. From participation in high-level policy forums to developments in our teaching portfolio and project and publication updates, this has been a busy period for SCELG, and our oceans research in particular.

Formal Marine Biodiversity Treaty negotiations starting in 2018 & SDGs synergies

December 2017: The UN General Assembly (UNGA) has decided to initiate formal negotiations of a new legally binding instrument  under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), by convening four sessions of an intergovernmental conference from 2018 to 2020. the respective UNGA Resolution 72/249 on this matter was adopted without a vote on 24 December 2017. The text can be found provisionally as document A/72/L.7 here.

The new treaty will address a package of elements on which SCELG has conducted a variety of research activities, namely: measures such as area-based management tools, including marine protected areas, environmental impact assessments, marine genetic resources including questions on the sharing of benefits, and capacity building and the transfer of marine technology.

These and other related issues are discussed in a Special Issue of the Marine Policy journal. This special issue (an output of the Marine Benefits project)  contributes to ongoing discussions of SDG 14 with a special focus on its relationship with other SDGs and broader international policy and legal instruments towards a more holistic and effective interpretation and implementation of this ocean-focused Goal.

SCELG at the CBD Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice & Fisheries Synthesis Submission 

December 2017: SCELG, the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme and the CBD Secretariat co-hosted a side event at CBD SBSTTA-21 entitled “Mainstreaming Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services into the Fisheries Sector for Sustainable Development”.

Prof Elisa Morgera, SCELG Director, presented research findings from the BENELEX research programme that are relevant to biodiversity mainstreaming; and illustrated the Legal Assessment Tool for Biodiversity Mainstreaming that SCELG developed under the IDLO/SwedBio project. Dr Daniela Diz, SCELG member, shared research findings and lessons learned from ESPA fisheries projects on the integration of biodiversity and ecosystem services into the fisheries sector, including as part of the ecosystem approach, and links with the SDGs. Jihyun Lee, CBD Secretariat, provided an update on the Sustainable Ocean Initiative (SOI) Global Dialogues with regional seas organizations and regional fisheries bodies as well SOI capacity-building opportunities. Kim Friedman (FAO) addressed the consideration of biodiversity in fisheries, and FAO support for CBD Parties in achieving Aichi Biodiversity Target 6 (sustainable fisheries).

Following this side-event, SCELG made a submission to the CBD Secretariat, in response to a notification inviting the sharing of experiences in mainstreaming biodiversity in fisheries, including through the ecosystem approach to fisheries. SCELG’s submission focuses on the contribution of the ecosystem services framework and methodological tools to the operationalization of certain elements of the ecosystem approach to fisheries. The synthesis submitted summarizes relevant ESPA literature and knowledge-base that have contributed to a broader understanding of ecosystem services flows and trade-offs in biodiversity conservation and fisheries management at appropriate scales.

SCELG awarded consultancy in trade of illegally harvested fisheries products

December 2017: Prof Elisa Morgera and Dr Daniela Diz were awarded a consultancy from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) to produce a study on the legislative tools and related measures to fight against the trade of illegally harvested fisheries products. The study will entail a comparative analysis of legislative practices and tools that support or complement market-related measures regarding illegal fisheries products, with options and guidelines for enhancing legislation. The study aims to enhance the knowledge and capacities of governments, and to improve their legal and governance frameworks by creating conditions for the sustainable management of fisheries and the achievement of relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

SCELG awarded consultancy by the Convention on Biological Diversity

September 2017: We were awarded an international consultancy by the Secretariat to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to support its work on ecologically or biologically significant marine areas and on Sustainable Ocean Initiative Global Dialogues. On EBSAs, SCELG will carry out preparatory work to facilitate a discussion on possible options for modifying the description of areas meeting the criteria for ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs), for describing new areas, and for strengthening the scientific credibility and transparency of the EBSA process.

Prof Elisa Morgera and Dr Daniela Diz participated in a CBD workshop in Berlin, Germany, from 5-8 December 2017. Dr Diz will also support the Secretariat in the organization of a side-event at the 22nd meeting of the CBD Subsidiary Body on the Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice, scheduled from 2-7 July 2018 in Montreal, Canada. In addition, Prof Morgera and Dr Diz will support the preparation of and participate in the second meeting of the Sustainable Ocean Initiative (SOI) Global Dialogue with Regional Seas Organizations and Regional Fisheries Bodies, to be held in Seoul, Republic of Korea, from 10-13 April 2018.

SCELG to lead a new Ecosystem Services for Sustainable Fisheries project

June 2017: The Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme has established a working group on Ecosystem Services for Sustainable Fisheries to investigate the role of ecosystem services in sustainable fisheries management, as well as the contribution of the fisheries sector to poverty alleviation and wellbeing of the poor in developing countries. Prof Morgera and Dr Diz were selected to support the new ESPA Fisheries working group by synthesising and communicating evidence from ESPA fisheries-related projects to key international organisations and processes, such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and at the UN Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (the Ocean Conference).

SCELG awarded consultancy on deep sea fisheries and marine biodiversity conservation

May 2017: Prof Morgera, Dr Diz, and Mara Ntona were awarded a consultancy from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) under the project “Development and application of guidance for the implementation of international legal instruments related to biodiversity conservation in areas beyond national jurisdiction”. The project aims to support national implementation of international law on marine biodiversity, looking at the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and other relevant instruments.

This phase of the project will comprise: (i) the finalisation of a step-wise guide for implementation of international policy and legal instruments relevant to deep-sea fisheries and biodiversity conservation; (ii) provision of training in the South East Atlantic, South Indian Ocean and /SIOFA and South East Pacific regions using the step-wise guide; and (iii) strengthening select national policy and legal frameworks.

SCELG at the UN Ocean Conference

June 2017: Professor Morgera and Dr Diz attended the UN Ocean Conference in New York from 5-9 June 2017, and organized a side-event entitled “Sustainable Development Goals and the blue economy: Investing in Marine Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation.” The side-event was hosted by the Permanent Mission of Eritrea to the United Nations, in partnership with the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme, the Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative (GOBI), the UK Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), and Marine Scotland. The side event discussed blue economy concepts and investment in natural capital in the context of SDG 14, as well as relevant findings from fisheries-related ESPA projects, including the Marine Benefits project and its upcoming Marine Policy special issue exploring synergies among ecosystem services, poverty alleviation, the ecosystem approach to fisheries, and the SDGs

This side event demonstrated the complex nature of poverty alleviation, especially in light of a changing climate, and how the ecosystem services framework can help identify appropriate conservation and management measures, as well as beneficiaries and the most vulnerable in society, and inform decision-making processes and trade-offs in the context of an ecosystem approach, and how the multiple dimensions of poverty relevant to multiple SDGs have been addressed by ESPA fisheries-related projects.  It also shed light on how the ecosystem services framework can bridge biodiversity law and human rights. 

SCELG at UN marine biodiversity treaty negotiations in New York

March 2017: The Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance partnered with WWF and the World Health Organization (WHO) to host a side-event at the negotiating session of a new treaty on marine biodiversity at the United Nations in New York.

The event was titled “Experiences of Benefit-Sharing Regimes and their Potential Relevance to Marine Genetic Resources and Capacity Building in Areas beyond National Jurisdiction.” Prof Elisa Morgera shared research from the BENELEX and MARINE BENEFITS projects, notably comparative insights into existing international regimes for fair and equitable benefit sharing, as well as the relevance of fair and equitable benefit-sharing in relation to marine scientific collaboration, capacity building and technology transfer. Dr Daniela Diz shared research on Sustainable Development Goals and the law of the Sea. Steven Solomon, WHO Principal Legal Advisor, explained the specific features and opportunities of the World Health Organisation’s Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (PIP) Framework.

The side event was held on 27 March, on the side-lines of the third session of the Preparatory Committee for the development of an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (27 March – 7 April 2017).

Research-Led Teaching

Prof Morgera and Dr Diz are the Co-Directors of the LLM in Law of the Sea, Sustainable Development and International Law.