Talks continue on treaty to protect marine biodiversity

UN member nations resumed negotiations on the new High Seas Treaty yesterday to reach an agreement on how to protect marine biodiversity.

The two-week conference in New York resumes talks from August 2022 when leaders ran out of time and seeks to create new protections for the ocean and a more robust assessment and management of human activities.

Set to last until March 3rd, it remains to be seen whether member states will bring the same level of ambition they did when creating a global commitment to protect at least 30% of ocean by 2030.

Currently only 1.2% of the high seas is protected, leaving them open to unsustainable developments, such as dredging and deep-sea mining.

photo og calm body of water

Sarah Bevis, from the High Seas Alliance, said: ‘We came frustratingly close to getting this treaty over the line in August at what was supposed to be the final round of negotiations. With the accelerating climate and biodiversity crises, time is not a luxury we have to put ocean health back on track. This time round we need to seize the moment and get an ambitious treaty over the finish line, so we can roll up our sleeves and work on the crucial tasks of getting the treaty ratified and implemented.’

Negotiations will take place on creating areas with enough protection to halt degradation, safeguarding the high seas and deep seabed from human activities and forming a strong institutional framework to ensure compliance.

Another key issue is the creation of decision-making rules to prevent one or two countries from blocking progress, while finance, equity issues and the sharing of benefits from marine genetic resources will also need to be raised.

Dr Laura Meller, Oceans Campaigner and Polar Advisor at Greenpeace Nordic, said: ‘The oceans support all life on Earth. Their fate will be decided at these negotiations. The science is clear. Protecting 30% of the oceans by 2030 is the absolute minimum necessary to avert catastrophe. It was encouraging to see all governments adopt the 30×30 target last year, but lofty targets mean nothing without action.”

‘This special session taking place so soon after the last round of negotiations collapsed gives us hope. If a strong Treaty is agreed on the 3rd of March, it keeps 30×30 alive. Governments must return to negotiations ready to find compromises and deliver an effective Treaty. We’re already in extra time. These talks are one final chance to deliver. Governments must not fail.’

Photo by Mathyas Kurmann


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