Good luck ! At last, an agreement at the UN on the Treaty on the Protection of the High Seas – Science et Avenir

On Saturday, UN member states finally agreed on the first international treaty to protect the high seas, designed to counter threats to ecosystems vital to humanity.

“The ship has landed,” announced conference president Rena Lee at UN Headquarters in New York on Saturday just before 21:30 (02:30 GMT) to loud and prolonged applause from delegates.

After more than 15 years of discussions, including four years of official negotiations, the third “last” session in New York is finally, or almost, right.

Delegates have finalized the text, the content of which is currently frozen in substance, but will be formally adopted at a later date after it has been reviewed by legal services and translated into the six official languages ​​of the UN.

The exact content of the text was not released immediately, but activists hailed it as a watershed for biodiversity protection.

“This is a historic conservation day and a sign that in a divided world, the protection of nature and people can triumph over geopolitics,” said Laura Moeller of Greenpeace.

After two weeks of intense discussions, including a marathon from Friday evening to Saturday, the delegates finalized a text that could no longer be substantially changed.

“There will be no reopening or substantive discussions on this case,” Ms. Li told the negotiators.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres congratulated the delegates, according to one of his representatives, who said the agreement is “a victory for multilateralism and global efforts to counter the devastating trends that threaten the health of the oceans today and for future generations.” .

The high seas begin where the states’ exclusive economic zones (EEZs) end, a maximum of 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the coast and are therefore not under the jurisdiction of any state.

– Marine Protected Areas –

Even though it represents over 60% of the oceans and almost half of the planet, it has long been ignored in the environmental fight in favor of coastal areas and a few iconic species.

With advances in science, evidence has emerged of the importance of protecting these often microscopic biodiversity oceans, which also provide half of the oxygen we breathe and limit global warming by absorbing much of the CO2 emitted by human activities.

But the oceans are weakening, falling prey to these emissions (warming, acidification, etc.), pollution of all kinds, and overfishing.

Thus, the new treaty, when it enters into force after it is formally adopted, signed and then ratified by a sufficient number of countries, will create marine protected areas in these international waters.

Only about 1% of the high seas is subject to conservation measures, and this symbolic tool is considered necessary if we hope to protect 30% of the planet’s land and oceans by 2030, as was decided by all the planet’s governments in December. .

“High seas protected areas can play a vital role in building resilience to the effects of climate change,” said Liz Karan of the NGO Pew Charitable Trusts, who called the deal a “historic achievement.”

The Treaty on the “Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction” also introduces an obligation to assess the environmental impact of proposed activities on the high seas.

– Profit Sharing –

Finally, a very sensitive chapter that crystallized tensions until the last minute, the principle of sharing the benefits of marine genetic resources harvested from the high seas.

Developing countries, lacking the funds to fund very costly expeditions and research, have struggled to ensure that they are not denied access to marine genetic resources and share in the expected profits from the commercialization of these resources, which non-cosmetics or cosmetics companies hope to obtain miraculous molecules.

As in other international forums, especially in climate talks, the debate has ultimately come down to the question of fairness between North and South, observers say.

In a statement seen as a confidence-building gesture between North and South, the European Union pledged 40 million euros in New York to facilitate the ratification of the treaty and its initial implementation.

In addition, during the Our Ocean conference, which concluded on Friday in Panama, he pledged more than 800 million euros to protect the oceans as a whole for 2023.

In total, Panamanian Foreign Minister Janina Tewani announced that “341 new commitments” worth nearly $20 billion, including nearly $6 billion from the United States, were made during this conference to protect the seas.

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