UN delegates reach historic agreement on the protection of marine biodiversity in international waters. The Secretary General, António Guterres, congratulated the UN member countries for finalizing a text to guarantee the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, calling it “advance” after almost two decades. of conversations, says UN News on its website
“This action is a victory for multilateralism and for global efforts to counter the destructive trends facing the health of the oceans, now and for generations to come,” the UN chief said in a statement issued by his spokesman on Saturday. at night, just a few hours after the agreement was reached. at UN headquarters in New York, where tough negotiations over the draft treaty have been taking place for the past two weeks.
The agreement reached by delegates to the Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction, better known by its acronym BBNJ, is the culmination of UN-facilitated talks that began in 2004.
The legal framework, already known as the “High Seas Treaty,” would place 30 percent of the world’s oceans in protected areas, put more money into marine conservation, and cover access to and use of marine genetic resources. .
Through his Spokesperson, Mr. Guterres said the treaty is crucial to address the triple planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.
“It is also vital to achieving the ocean-related goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework,” the statement said, referring to the so-called ’30×30′ commitment to protect a third of the world’s biodiversity, on land and sea, by 2030 made by a historic UN conference in Montreal last December.
Noting that BBNJ’s decision builds on the legacy of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Secretary-General commended all parties for their ambition, flexibility and perseverance, and saluted Ambassador Rena Lee, from Singapore, for his leadership. and dedication.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the ship has washed ashore,” Ms. Lee said last night, announcing the deal to a prolonged standing ovation in the meeting room. Delegations will meet again later to formally adopt the text.
The statement issued by the UN Spokesperson said the Secretary-General also recognized the critical support from non-governmental organizations, civil society, academic institutions and the scientific community.
“It looks forward to continuing to work with all parties to ensure a healthier, more resilient, and productive ocean that benefits current and future generations,” the statement concluded.
Reacting on Twitter, Csaba Kőrösi, president of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, also congratulated the delegates and Ms. Lee for reaching consensus on a global legal framework for the high seas.
“This is a great success for multilateralism. An example of the transformation that our world needs and that the people we serve demand,” he added.
According to AP, the treaty also establishes basic rules for carrying out environmental impact assessments for commercial activities in the oceans.
“It means that all activities planned for the high seas need to be scrutinized, although not all will go through a full assessment,” said Jessica Battle, an ocean governance expert at the World Wide Fund for Nature.
Various marine species, including dolphins, whales, sea turtles, and many fish, make long annual migrations, crossing national borders and the high seas. Efforts to protect them, along with human communities that depend on fishing or tourism related to marine life, have long proved difficult for international governing bodies.
“This treaty will help unite the different regional treaties in order to address threats and concerns across the ranges of the species,” Battle said.
Such protection also helps biodiversity and coastal economies, said Gladys Martínez de Lemos, executive director of the Inter-American Association for Environmental Defense, a nonprofit organization that focuses on environmental issues in Latin America.
Source: UN News & AP News