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Environmental Assessment, Environmental Impact Assessment, Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), Regional Environmental Assessment (REA), Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction, Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction


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Next Generation Environmental Assessment in the Emerging High Seas Regime? An Evaluation of the State of the Negotiations

Meinhard Doelle Canadian Chair, Marine Environmental Protection World Maritime University

Gunnar Sander Norwegian College of Fishery Science University of Tromsø, the Arctic University of Norway


This article evaluates prospects for an effective Environmental assessment (EA) regime through the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) process and suggests improvements to the results of the negotiations as of March 2020. We start our review by offering key elements of existing international law as it relates to EA as context. Twelve elements of “Next Generation EA” are then introduced as a standard against which the article evaluates the results of the negotiations and as inspiration for the EA elements of a new legally binding instrument. This is followed with an overview of the results of the negotiations and an evaluation of the gaps between the outcomes of the negotiations and the “Next Generation EA” standard. We conclude that the negotiations have established a reasonably solid basis for effective project level assessments, but that further improvements are needed. Much more work remains on regional and strategic assessments and the proper integration of the EA regime into effective governance of the world’s oceans.

Publication Abbreviation

Intl J Mar & Coast L