D2: Science Advising for a New Global Marine Biodiversity Treaty

Decision-making for marine waters, seabed, and air space “beyond national jurisdiction”—about 45% of Earth’s surface (and influencing the entire world ocean, about 70% of the planet’s surface)—demands the best scientific support possible. In March 2020, negotiators are scheduled to deliver a new treaty for these areas, focused on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

In this session, scientists, lawyers, and policy analysts who have experience in science advising and who have participated in the negotiation of this treaty will discuss what successful science-based policy and resource management require, the pitfalls, best practices, and the current state of the negotiations.

The treaty will cover several aspects of biodiversity use and protection that rely on the best science, including designation of marine protected areas, environmental impact assessment of human activities and the effect of greenhouse gas emissions, and how marine genetic resources are exploited. The form, authority, and composition of the scientific body or network will be determined in the text. The challenge is how to deliver on the global commitment to using the best science in the face of the immensity of the task and the need to allocate authority between scientists (and other relevant experts) and political decision-makers. The experience from other national and international regulatory bodies represented by these speakers provides guidance to effective approaches.


  • Cymie Payne, Associate Professor, Rutgers University, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences/Department Human Ecology and Law School

  • Andrew Rosenberg, Director, Center for Science and Democracy, Union of Concerned Scientists

  • Thomas Miller, Director, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

  • Nichola Clark, Ph.D. candidate, University of Wollongong, Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security