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Common Oceans - A partnership for sustainability in the ABNJ

Taking steps towards a potential next ABNJ Program

23 May 2019

Rome, Italy, 23-26 April 2019. In April 2019, partners, donors, stakeholders and others with in an interest in becoming partners of the Common Oceans ABNJ Program were invited to the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to continue the conversation on forming a program under the seventh replenishment cycle of the Global Environment Fund (GEF-7). The first meeting took place in December 2018, during which a group began exploring options and ideas to help shape and define a next program focused on the areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ).

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Meeting participants at FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy © FAO

This second meeting was organized to refine the programmatic theory of change that had been drafted based on outcomes from the first meeting, and to discuss and agree on a scope as well as the four proposed outcomes. The participants were also presented with the opportunity to propose ideas for activities, as well as other initiatives offering opportunities for collaboration or sources of co-financing.  

All in all, over 50 ideas for activities were presented during the meeting, which lead to fruitful discussions on the scope and ideas for possible projects. Different types of exercises led to conversations on main stakeholder groups, potential partnerships, likely responsibilities and contributions, as well as future expectations. On the fourth and final day, the participants were given time to examine all suggested activities further, to identify joint areas of work and synergies.

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Meeting participants during a plenary session © FAO

The wide range and long list of preliminary activity sets and proposed structures for possible projects, clearly showcased continued support and interest among current partners. "We are continuously interested in being part of the Common Oceans ABNJ Program under the GEF, in particular the cross-sectoral coordination and collaboration through application of the area-based management tools and ecosystem approach", said Takehiro Nakamura from UN Environment, one of the GEF implementing agencies of the Common Oceans ABNJ Deep Seas Project. Similar interest in joining the was expressed by new, possible partners including the United Nations Development Program, the International Whaling Commission, the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Sargasso Sea Commission.

"This has been a great continuation to the process of developing and promoting a program for the coming GEF-7 cycle. As you probably know, this was the first program within the International Waters Portfolio, and it is clear that many lessons were learned from that", said Jackie Alder, FAO FishCode Manager and Coordinator of the Common Oceans ABNJ Program. "Next on the agenda, is to continue refining the current version of the theory of change, and to clearly define objectives that focuses on cross-sectoral coordination of ABNJ resources – in line with the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework, and the sustainable development goal 14 on life below water under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development".

Aiming to continue inclusive consultations with all key stakeholders, a series of meetings and workshops is planned for 2019. 

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Global Environment Facility (GEF)