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UN chief says high seas deal must be ‘ambitious’

UNITED NATIONS (UNITED STATES) — United Nations chief Antonio Guterres on Wednesday urged countries to agree a “robust and ambitious” treaty to protect the high seas as negotiators are running out of time.

After 15 years of formal and informal talks, delegates have been meeting in New York since February 20 to discuss a text that aims to protect almost half the planet.

It is the third “final” round of negotiations in less than a year and is due to end on Friday.

“Our ocean has been under pressure for decades. We can no longer ignore the maritime emergency,” Guterres said in a message read to negotiators.

“The impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution are being felt strongly around the world, affecting our environment, our livelihoods and our lives,” added the Secretary-General.

“By adopting a robust and ambitious agreement at this meeting, you can take an important step forward to counteract these destructive trends and improve ocean health for generations to come.”

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

While 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.

An updated draft text released last weekend is still chock-full of parenthetical clauses and multiple options on some key issues that will determine the robustness of the final deal.

But observers speaking to AFP were upbeat on Wednesday thanks to significant progress in talks over the past few days.

“The first week felt like we were going in circles, but we feel the pace is picking up a lot and views are converging,” said Greenpeace’s Laura Meller.

“A strong Global Seas Agreement is very, very achievable,” she added.

Glen Wright, a researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, said he would not call the proposal “ambitious”.

“But I think it’s strong enough to be meaningful, to build something that states can build on in the future,” he added.

How the marine protected areas, a core part of the mandate of any future agreement, should be created is still a matter of debate.

Several observers told AFP China is urging the future governing body of an eventual treaty, known as the Conference of the Parties (COP), to determine the sanctuaries by consensus rather than majority decision.

They say China is trying to gain a de facto veto, like Beijing has used for years to block the creation of other marine protected areas by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

The sharing of any profits from the collection of newly discovered marine substances by pharmaceutical, chemical or cosmetics manufacturers also leads to division.

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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