UNITED NATION — Members of the United Nations adopted the first treaty to protect marine life in the high seas on Monday, with the head of the United Nations hailing the historic agreement as giving the oceans a “baseline” fighting society”.
Delegates from the 193 member states burst into applause and then rose to a standing ovation as Singapore’s ambassador for ocean affairs, Rena Lee, who was chairing the talks, hammered the hammer after heard no objections to ratification of the treaty.
The oceans produce most of the oxygen we breathe and absorb carbon dioxide, which makes them increasingly important in reducing carbon emissions that cause global warming. However, currently only 1% of the vast ocean area is protected.
A treaty to protect biodiversity in the seas beyond national borders, known as the high seas, which covers nearly half of the earth’s surface, has been discussed for more than 20 years, but ongoing efforts stalled until March. That’s when delegates to an intergovernmental conference set up by the United Nations General Assembly agreed on a treaty that would then be subject to legal scrutiny and translated into six languages. official United Nations.
The new treaty will be open for signature on September 20, during the annual meeting of world leaders at the General Assembly, and it will enter into force after it has been ratified by 60 countries.
The treaty would create a new body to manage the conservation of ocean life and the establishment of marine protected areas in the high seas. It also establishes ground rules for conducting environmental impact assessments for commercial activities in the ocean.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told delegates that the treaty’s adoption comes at a critical time, with oceans under threat on many fronts.
Climate change is disrupting weather patterns and ocean currents, he said, raising sea temperatures, “changing marine ecosystems and the species that live there,” and marine biodiversity. are being attacked by overfishing, overfishing and ocean acidification.”
More than a third of fish stocks are being exploited at unsustainable levels. “And we are polluting coastal waters with chemicals, plastics and human waste.”
Guterres said the treaty was important to address these threats and he called on all countries to do their best to ensure that the treaty is signed and ratified as soon as possible, stressing emphasized that “this is important to address the threats facing the oceans”.
The treaty also establishes principles for sharing “marine genetic resources” discovered by scientists in international waters, a key requirement of developing countries, who assert that the fruits of such discoveries such cannot be controlled only by richer countries that have the money to fund potential prospecting expeditions. New lucrative ingredients for medicine and cosmetics.
After the treaty was ratified, Group 77, the United Nations alliance of 134 mainly developing nations and China, called it “an extremely important day for biodiversity”. ”, praising their successful struggle to achieve shared interests in the final text as well as funding to help implement the treaty upon ratification.
The coalition of small island nations, some of whose members fear that climate change and rising seas could wipe out their countries, says it has been fighting for a treaty for decades and its passage. will have far-reaching impacts “on our livelihoods, our culture and our economy. .”
But Russia said it was “away from consensus on the text of the agreement” which it called “unacceptable”, saying it “undermines the terms of the most important international agreements, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.”
Sergey Leonidchenko, head of the legal department of the Russian Delegation, told delegates that the treaty “does not strike the right balance between conservation and sustainable use of the ocean’s resources.” For one example, he said, “the check and balance against the politicization of MPAs was not included in the text.”
The adoption of the treaty follows a separate historic agreement reached by governments around the world in Montreal in December, which includes a commitment to protect 30% of the land and water considered important to biodiversity by 2030, called 30 times 30.
Rebecca Hubbard, director of the High Seas Alliance representing more than 50 NGOs and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, praised the countries “for taking a step closer to bringing political agreement to a political agreement.” this into domestic action.”
“Countries now have to ratify it as quickly as possible for it to come into force so that we can protect our oceans, build resilience to climate change and protect life as well,” she said. as the livelihoods of billions of people”.
Greenpeace’s Chris Thorne called the pact a “victory for all life on this planet.”
“Science clearly shows that we must protect 30% of the ocean by 2030 to give the oceans a chance to recover and grow,” he said.