Greenpeace comment on UN ocean treaty negotiations

Greenpeace Southwest Atlantic Ocean, Blue Hole, Argentina 2022. Tour Travesía 2022 Arctic Sunrise. As the Greenpeace team navigate the Southwest Atlantic, hundreds of fishing boats plunder the sea. We call for an urgent Global Ocean Treaty to protect marine ecosystems such as the home of the iconic Southern Right Whale. © Esteban Medina San Martin / Greenpeace
24/03/2022

Greenpeace – Vancouver – The fourth round of negotiations towards a Global Ocean Treaty conclude at the UN Headquarters in New York on Friday 18 March.[1] 

In response to progression in negotiations, Greenpeace Canada’s Head of Oceans and Plastics, Sarah King said: 

“Governments have let a crucial opportunity to address the ocean biodiversity crisis stall, as negotiations on the Global Ocean Treaty at the UN are paused until a later date. Wildlife is disappearing and is faced with mounting threats.

Over 100 world governments have committed to protect at least 30 per cent of the global oceans by 2030 (30×30), but securing a strong treaty is necessary to make that happen. 

There currently isn’t a way to create ocean sanctuaries in the high seas – safe havens to allow marine life to recover and adapt to changing oceans. Governments must ramp up their ambitions and sign, seal and deliver the treaty this year. 

Ocean-dependent peoples around the world are seeing their livelihoods and food security threatened as the ocean crisis worsens. This is exacerbated by the climate breakdown. 

We need healthier, more equitably managed global ocean commons and a strong Global Ocean Treaty can create a blueprint of a rescue plan that can move us in that direction. 

Canada is part of the 47 member High Ambition Coalition that committed to securing a Global Ocean Treaty that delivers 30×30, but we are concerned that the delegation has not been charged with the mandate to negotiate from a position of bold ambition.

Canada must play a leadership role in overcoming the lack of consensus on key issues in the treaty, and work with progressive countries on the matter to ensure the best case scenario for our oceans is agreed. [2]”

[1] Governments have been meeting from Monday 7 March – Friday 18 March at the UN to discuss the so-called Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) treaty. Scientists and campaigners are calling for a historic agreement to protect international waters: a Global Ocean Treaty. 

If done properly, this would create the legal framework for the creation of highly or fully protected Marine Protected Areas (or “ocean sanctuaries”) across at least a third of the world’s oceans by 2030. 

This target is known as “30×30” – something scientists say is essential to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and protect vulnerable species. Over 100 governments and 5 million people worldwide have backed the 30×30 vision. While negotiations are continuing on Friday, the key issues commented on above have already concluded.

For more information, please contact:

Dina Ni, Communications Officer, Greenpeace Canada 

dina.ni@greenpeace.org, +1 514 400-3313

Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction

In its resolution 72/249 of 24 December 2017, the General Assembly decided to convene an Intergovernmental Conference, under the auspices of the United Nations, to consider the recommendations of the Preparatory Committee established by resolution 69/292 of 19 June 2015

The elements and to elaborate the text of an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, with a view to developing the instrument as soon as possible.

In accordance with resolution 72/249, the Conference held a three-day organizational meeting in New York, from 16 to 18 April 2018, to discuss organizational matters, including the process for the preparation of the zero draft of the instrument.

The first session was convened from 4 to 17 September 2018, the second session from 25 March to 5 April 2019 and the third session from 19 to 30 August 2019. The fourth session, which was postponed by decisions 74/543 and 75/570 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be convened from 7 to 18 March 2022.

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