Hundreds of countries meet to discuss a UN treaty on the protection of the oceans

Hawksbill sea turtles (Photo: Doug Perrine/WWF) (Doug Perrine/)

Delegations from hundreds of countries will meet this week in New York in an attempt to develop a new legally binding treaty for the protection of the oceans which, according to environmental groups, will decide the success of efforts to safeguard global biodiversity.

An earlier round of talks on the new United Nations ocean conservation treaty was suspended last August as countries they could not reach an agreement on financing. Sharing the benefits of “marine genetic resources” and setting standards for assessing the environmental impact of the oceans on development were also major sticking points.

Experts familiar with the negotiations said that The main parties have been close on key issues as the new talks began, although compromises are still being sought.

“It seems that now there is a desire to finalize the treaty”, said Jessica Battle, an ocean expert at the World Wide Fund for Nature.

Demonstration outside last year's conference in Lisbon (Reuters)
Demonstration outside last year’s conference in Lisbon (Reuters) (PEDRO NUNES /)

“There are several countries that want to do some concessionsbut at the end of the day the important thing is that the treaty is not diluted too muchhe said, noting that an attempt to exclude fishing from this treaty had already been rejected.

The success of the talks, which will last until March 3, It continues “depending on the financial issue”said Li Shuo, Greenpeace’s global policy adviser, and China is called upon to play a key role in the negotiations, especially in attracting other developing countries.

According to Greenpeace, in order to achieve With the goal of protecting 30% of the planet’s land and sea surface by 2030, known as “30 by 30″, it is necessary to protect 11 million square kilometers of ocean each year between now and the end of the decade.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that it was striving for “a high-quality agreement that takes into account conservation and sustainable use and can be generally accepted by the international community.”

The question of how to share the benefits of industrial development of the oceansincluding the use of marine genetic resources in pharmaceuticals and other industries, will also be a crucial factor for Chinawhich is already home to six of the world’s 10 largest companies managing high seas fishing fleets.

“Genetic resources and the funding issue will be the key play,” Greenpeace’s Li said.

(With information from Reuters/By David Stanway)

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