The final negotiations for a UN Ocean Treaty resume on Monday 20 February 2023. Without a strong Treaty, it is practically impossible to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030, the 30×30 target. This target was agreed at COP15 in Montreal in December 2022.
Failure to agree a Treaty will jeopradise the 30×30 target just months after it was agreed. Progress on ocean sanctuaries was made at the last negotiations giving hope that a Treaty is within reach.
Dr Laura Meller, Oceans Campaigner and Polar Advisor, 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.”
More than 50 High Ambition Coalition countries promised a Treaty in 2022 and they failed. Many of the self-proclaimed ocean champions from the Global North refused to compromise on key issues such as financing and monetary benefit sharing from Marine Genetic Resources until the final days of talks. They offered too little, too late.
The sticking points which must be resolved are on finance, capacity building and the fair sharing of benefits from Marine Genetic Resources. Resolving these impasses depends on the Global North making a fair and credible offer to the Global South.
Establishing a global network of protected areas should be a primary objective of the Treaty, making it possible to protect at least 30% of the world’s oceans.
A strong Treaty must be able to establish fully protected ocean sanctuaries across the high seas, free from activities like destructive fishing and deep sea mining.
The Conference of the Parties (COP) created by the Treaty must be able to take decisions on all potentially damaging activities, including fishing, inside protected areas without deferring to dysfunctional sectoral bodies that only care about short term interests.
The COP must also be able to operate by majority vote, not relying on consensus, to avoid single countries stalling or blocking progress.
Around the world, small-scale fisheries workers and grassroots ocean protectors are demanding action to protect the oceans – like the community in Cayar, Senegal, who are suing a polluting fishmeal factory with Greenpeace’s support.
The threat of deep sea mining is adding to the many pressures the oceans are facing. A strong Global Ocean Treaty can help turn the tide, prioritising ocean protection over exploitation.
Sources: THX News, United Nations & Greenpeace.