An extensive regime for marine biodiversity in ‘areas beyond national jurisdiction’ is currently discussed under the United Nations. A key aspect of its institutional design concerns the integrative quality of the treaty that is to be developed on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction – called the ‘BBNJ Agreement’. There is a large number of global and regional policy instruments regulating activities in the areas beyond national jurisdiction. Yet, issues of integrating and coordinating these instruments prevail, raising the question how a new treaty could provide for environmental policy integration in ocean governance. This paper draws on environmental policy integration literature of the past three decades to explore, ex ante, to what extent the planned ocean treaty can contribute to more institutional harmonization. It examines how the treaty addresses four key policy-making dimensions of environmental policy integration, and new opportunities and challenges that have emerged, based on the attributes of the treaty provisions and its institutional architecture. This paper concludes that the BBNJ Agreement offers an alternative policy framework which has the potential to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity by triggering more international cooperation and collaboration and filling gaps in ocean governance.
- The normative framework of the BBNJ Agreement prioritizes environmental protection over economic and social objectives.
- Defining competences and converging political interests is key for the BBNJ Agreement.
- Environmental impact assessments are important for fostering the protection of the marine environment.
- Establishing administrative and regulatory coherence between the BBNJ Agreement and existing policy instruments is essential for environmental policy integration in ocean governance.
Photo by Francesco Ungaro