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. The review starts by offering key elements of existing international law as it relates to EA as context. Twelve elements of ‘Next Generation EA’ are introduced as a standard against which to evaluate the results of the negotiations and as inspiration for the EA elements of a new legally binding instrument. While the negotiations have established a reasonably solid basis for effective project level assessments, 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 ocean.