Panama: Global High Seas Treaty Needed to Preserve Oceans

Panama City, Mar 2 (EFE).- The Government of Panama said this Thursday, at the opening of the eighth session of the “Our Ocean” conference, that a new treaty on the high seas is needed to protect the oceans, and that The world is waiting for the negotiations taking place at the UN to achieve this.

“I want to send a message to all governments and their negotiators that are in the last round of negotiations for the approval of the ‘Treaty on Areas Outside Jurisdiction’: the world has its eyes on you,” said the Panamanian minister of Environment, Milciades Concepción.

“We need the High Seas Treaty to conserve our ocean, and to have the legal framework that will allow us to reach that 30% of protected oceans worldwide,” he added.

Panama, “as a blue leader”, is not satisfied “with only meeting the goal” of the UN 30X30 initiative “through an absolute numerical value, but also” wants to “establish parameters” so that its marine areas “ are highly and totally protected,” he added.

The UN will carry out a final round of negotiations until this Friday, which began on the 20th, to try to finalize a new treaty on the high seas that guarantees the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas located outside national jurisdictions. .

The UN countries, which have been discussing the issue for years, continue with the negotiations of the fifth session in August 2022, when the governments ran out of time to close an agreement that was already very advanced.

In this new round, issues have been addressed such as measures to guarantee that the new treaty can create new marine protected areas; safeguards to avoid damage derived from human activities that affect the oceans and rules for decision-making that prevent one or two countries from blocking progress, among other issues.

The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, asked the negotiating delegations for “flexibility and perseverance” on Wednesday, and asked governments around the world to agree on a treaty that would save the oceans in the face of the “emergency” they currently suffer.

In recent days, environmental organizations have warned of the risk of the process failing and some of them had asked Guterres to issue a clear message to countries.

Covering half of the Earth, the high seas support vibrant marine ecosystems, life forms critical to the global food supply and the planet’s climate system.

However, according to Greenpeace data, it has been burdened by poor or irregular governance, and with only 1.2% of the ocean protected, vast areas of the high seas are open to unsustainable exploitation.

Between this Thursday and Friday, Panama brings together researchers, activists, officials and the private sector in conference, with the expectation of achieving more resources and consensus to promote the protection of the oceans.

This series of conferences, initiated in 2014 by the now United States special presidential envoy for climate, John Kerry, one of the attendees of this eighth session, will focus on six axes of action: marine protected areas, marine security, economy blue, sustainable fishing, climate change, and marine pollution. EFE