New York, 6 March 2023 (TDI): Global agreement on protecting ocean biodiversity reached conclusion after 38 hours of negotiations in New York.
The treaty agreed on placing 30% of the seas into protected areas by 2023 to tackle environmental degradation, fight climate change, and prevent biodiversity loss.
The agreement reached the conclusion after being held hostage by disagreements on funding and fishing rights for ten years.
The last international agreement was the UN Convention on the Laws of Seas. It established the High Sea or international waters areas where all counties had an equal right to fish, ship, and do research.
However, only 1.2% of the High Sea water is protected. The newly agreed treaty will now establish a large-scale marine protected body on the high seas.
This treaty also aligns with the global commitment of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Agreement concluded in December 2022, aiming to protect 30% of the high seas by 2023.
The treaty is meticulously drafted to gauge the impacts of economic activities on the high seas’ biodiversity. The treaty laid down the provision of supporting and funding developing countries in their participation and implementation of the treaty.
Outstandingly, the treaty allows authorizing developing counties with a strong capacity building and marine technology transfer mechanism for sharing the potential benefits of marine genetic resources.
Primarily, the 5th Intergovernmental Conference in New York on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction is a momentous global engagement to address menacing environmental issues in all seriousness.
The European Union (EU) and its member states have been at the helm of this ambitious alliance in reaching the global agreement. The treaty gathered 52 countries, committed to pragmatic actions for the protection of the oceans.
Since now the negotiations have been inked, the treaty shall enter into force once all 60 states ratify it. The European Union will work to ensure a smooth and expedited ratification process.
It will also assist developing countries to prepare for the execution of the treaty. To accomplish this, the EU has pledged €40 million as part of a Global Ocean Programme.
It has requested the members of the High Ambition Coalition to do the same within their capabilities. The formal adoption of the treaty will take place once legal scrubbing in UN languages is complete.
The areas beyond national jurisdiction cover two-thirds of the world’s ocean, comprising high seas. The high seas provide indispensable ecological, economic, social, and food security benefits to humanity. The continuous deteriorating condition of marine biodiversity needs urgent protection.
With marine resources facing mounting challenges, most countries agreed on formulating a High Sea treaty under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to protect and sustainably use the resources of these areas.
The agreement provides a holistic approach to managing and regulating high-seas activities. The key features of the treaty include cooperating, preserving, protecting the marine environment, and undertaking prior impact assessment of activities.