The role of humanity's responsibility towards biodiversity: The BBNJ treaty

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Environmental challenges at global, regional or local levels require joint efforts of state and non-state actors and parties to responsibly manage and preserve. More than half of the global ocean area is located in what is termed Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ), however, where only a patchwork of uncoordinated governance efforts speaks to this responsibility. In these areas, scientific discoveries have identified seamounts, hydrothermal vents and cold-water corals in rare and vulnerable ecosystems, as well as the potentials of marine genetic resources that could be used in the biotechnology industry. Concern over contradictions in terms of sustainable development and conservation efforts to preserve the biodiversity of these areas have increasingly been vocalized, and the United Nations General Assembly has therefore called for an intergovernmental negotiation process towards a new multilateral treaty in Resolution 69/292, adopted in June 2015, on biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. The resultant treaty will act both as a conservation and governance mechanism, meant to establish methods to protect marine biodiversity and provide guidelines to regulate it in the ABNJ. This chapter will discuss human interactions and explore the responsibility of actors within the context of biodiversity protection in areas with little or no governance, where unknown potentials for exploitation exist. In doing so, we ask questions about processes of regime formation, the design of effective regimes and interaction with other regimes and thereby analyse the institutional articulation of humanity's responsibility towards biodiversity, within the framework of complex institutional dynamics, and how this could lead to adequate governance of our common heritage in this new frontier.

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The Routledge Handbook on Responsibility in International Relations