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contract ahoy! UN states agree on ‘historic’ agreement to protect the high seas

UNITED NATIONS, USA: After years of talks, UN member states finally agreed on Saturday on a text on the first international treaty to protect the high seas, a fragile and vital treasure that covers almost half the planet.

“The ship has reached shore,” announced conference chair Rena Lee at the UN headquarters in New York just before 9:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m. on Sunday in Thailand) to loud and prolonged applause from the delegates.

After more than 15 years of discussions, including four years of formal talks, the third so-called final negotiation session in less than a year heralded the long-awaited consensus.

The treaty is seen as essential to conserving 30 percent of the world’s land and ocean surface by 2030, as agreed by the world’s governments in a historic accord signed in Montreal in December.

The exact text of the text was not released immediately, but activists hailed it as a breakthrough in biodiversity conservation.

“This is a historic day for conservation and a sign that in a divided world, conservation of nature and people can triumph over geopolitics,” said Greenpeace’s Laura Meller.

After two weeks of intense discussions, including a marathon overnight session Friday through Saturday, delegates finalized a text that cannot now be changed significantly.

“There will be no reopening or substantive discussions,” Lee told negotiators.

The agreement will be officially adopted at a later date, once it has been reviewed by lawyers and translated into the six official languages ​​of the United Nations, she announced.

The high seas begin at the borders of the countries’ exclusive economic zones, which extend up to 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the coast. They therefore do not fall under the jurisdiction of any country.

Although the high seas make up more than 60 percent of the world’s oceans and almost half of the earth’s surface, they have long attracted far less attention than coastal waters and some iconic species.

Marine ecosystems produce half of the oxygen that humans breathe and limit global warming by absorbing much of the carbon dioxide released by human activities.

But they are threatened by climate change, pollution and overfishing.

Only about 1% of the high seas are currently protected.

When the new agreement enters into force, it will allow for the creation of marine protected areas in these international waters.

“Marine protected areas on the high seas can play a critical role in building resilience to the impacts of climate change,” said Liz Karan of The Pew Charitable Trusts, who called the deal a “significant success.”

The treaty will also oblige countries to carry out environmental impact assessments for planned activities on the high seas.

A highly sensitive chapter on sharing potential benefits of newly discovered marine resources was one of the flashpoints of tension before it was finally resolved when talks, which were due to end on Friday, were delayed by a day.

– ‘Winnings’ –

Without the resources to afford costly research, developing countries had struggled not to be left out of the expected windfall from commercializing potential substances discovered in international waters.

Any profits are likely to come from the pharmaceutical, chemical, or cosmetic uses of newly discovered marine substances that belong to no one.

As in other international forums, notably the climate negotiations, the debate ended on a question of ensuring justice between the poorer global South and the richer North, observers noted.

In a move seen as an attempt to build trust between rich and poor countries, the European Union pledged 40 million euros ($42 million) in New York to facilitate the treaty’s ratification and early implementation.

The EU also announced $860 million for ocean exploration, monitoring and conservation in 2023 at the Our Ocean conference in Panama, which ended on Friday. A total of $19 billion has been pledged by the countries, according to Panama.

In 2017, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling on nations to conclude a high seas agreement.

It originally planned four negotiating sessions, but had to pass two resolutions to ensure two additional sessions.

“We can now finally move from talking to making real changes at sea,” Greenpeace’s Meller said.

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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