For the 61% of the ocean that lies in areas beyond national jurisdiction, the development of a new international agreement for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity is now underway – the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (BBNJ – Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction). Science, technology and innovation cross-cut the BBNJ agreement. DOSI are providing an important platform for science-policy engagement in the development of the BBNJ agreement.

The aim of the BBNJ working group is to facilitate the provision of scientific and technical information to the United Nations process to develop a new international legally binding instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.

The working group objectives are to:

  1. Synthesise scientific knowledge relating to the conservation and sustainable use of BBNJ and identify key issues for the BBNJ instrument (i.e. area-based management tools, environmental impact assessments, marine genetic resources, capacity building and technology transfer);
  2. Publish open-access academic papers, policy briefs and educational materials on key issues for BBNJ and provide input to the BBNJ negotiation process through submissions, side-events, workshops and engagement; and
  3. Provide a focal point for scientific expertise and network engagement on BBNJ issues and a platform for collaboration between scientists and other stakeholders (including engaging with the scientific community, governments and other stakeholders at workshops and meetings and at the UN intergovernmental negotiating conference).

Current Working Group Activities:

The second session of the intergovernmental negotiating conference is currently underway at the UN headquarters in NY (March-April 2019).

The documents relating to the conference are here:

DOSI is once again engaging with this process and has collaborated in four side events during the conference: (

  • 27/03; “Facilitating Capacity Development, Transfer of Marine Technology and Ocean Science in BBNJ” IOC & DOSI. DOSI Speakers: Muriel Rabone
  • 28/03: “Mare geneticum and an ecosystem approach: power, openness and sharing” IUCN; DOSI; University of Aberdeen. Speakers: Muriel Rabone
  • 29/03: “Conservation, Climate Change and Ocean Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction” Papua New Guinea, Belize, Federated States of Micronesia, DOSI. Speaker: Diva Amon
  • 30/03: “PSIDS Regional workshop”: IUCN; Norway, DOSI. Speaker – Harriet Harden-Davies
  • 01/04: “The Role of Science and a Scientific Body Under the New Instrument” Canada, High Seas Alliance, DOSI; Speakers = Paul Snelgrove, Harriet Harden-Davies

DOSI has a delegation of 8, Harriet Harden-Davies will be there for the duration – other participation will be staggered.

In total, 3 DOSI interventions have been made so far relating to MGR: intervention 1; intervention 2, intervention 3

Two new policy briefs have been published by DOSI in advance of this meeting and have been widely distributed:

  1. “Access and sharing benefits from marine genetic resources from ABNJ: building on best practices in the scientific community”

This brief highlights how best-practice approaches to marine scientific research already enable benefit-sharing from marine genetic resources by providing open and facilitated access to data and samples; a new BBNJ agreement could streamline and strengthen these approaches.

 Prepared by: Muriel Rabone (Natural History Museum, UK), Harriet Harden-Davies (University of Wollongong, Australia), Tammy Horton (National Oceanography Centre, UK), Jane Collins (KU Leuven & ABS-int, Belgium), Marcel Jaspars, (University of Aberdeen, UK), Kristina Gjerde (International Union for Conservation of Nature), Maria Baker (University of Southampton, UK), and Paul Snelgrove, (Memorial University Newfoundland, Canada), through the DOSI Deep Sea Genetic Resources Working Group. 

  1. “The Full Value of Marine Genetic Resources”

This brief highlights how marine genetic resources, derived from the immense biodiversity of the ocean, not only represent an alluring potential source of fundamental scientific discovery and commercial bioproducts – they provide an integral part of the global systems that make Earth habitable.

Prepared by: Jeffrey Marlow (Harvard University), Harriet Harden-Davies (University of Wollongong), Paul Snelgrove (Memorial University), Marcel Jaspars (University of Aberdeen),  Robert Blasiak (Stockholm University), and Colette Wabnitz (University of British Columbia) through the DOSI BBNJ Working Group.

These policy briefs add to the collection prepared through the DOSI network in 2018 (links below).


Recent Working Group Activities:

September 2018 saw the first session of the intergovernmental negotiating conference and DOSI facilitated scientific and technical input to the development of the BBNJ instrument. As BBNJ issues cut across a number of working group areas – the role of this working group is to facilitate coordination and engagement across all DOSI areas.

The first session of the negotiations for BBNJ commenced on 4 September at the UN in New York.

Many DOSI BBNJ members showed great enthusiasm and efforts in contributing to the preparations. As a result, DOSI was highly visible during the IGC:


April 2018: BBNJ WG workshop 5-6 April 2018, University of Southampton, UK – Science diplomacy for stewardship: advancing science-based policy for biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction through the Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative (DOSI). Link to Report.
Participants of DOSI BBNJ workshop, Southampton April 2018
Paul Snelgrove presents major science questions on behalf of DOSI BBNJ working group

Paul Snelgrove attended BBNJ ICG and presented on behalf of DOSI BBNJ working group during a side-event with the IOC, Belgium and Nauru entitled The potential interlinkages between the UN Ocean Science Decade and scientific aspects in the context of BBNJ in April 2018.

Harriet Harden-Davies (University of Wollongong, Australia –  co-leads this working group with Paul Snelgrove (Memorial University, Canada) and Jefferey Marlow (Harvard University, USA)