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What’s in store for the UN High Seas Treaty?

After four failed attempts, United Nations member states are planning to meet for a fifth time to pass the UN High Seas Treaty.

The Treaty has been under construction since the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea was passed, however member states are yet to act upon it.

Over the coming weeks, world leaders will meet in New York to discuss the Treaty, with environmental activists hoping everyone will be in agreement. The Treaty will need 60 signatories to become legally binding.

The Treaty aims to legally bind the international community to make certain parts of the ocean protected areas, hopefully making up 30% of the world’s land and ocean by 2030. These protections include prevention and limitations of damage to marine life through a legally binding framework and carrying out active environmental impact reports before considering types of human activities that greatly affect the oceans, such as mining.

Currently, only 1% of international waters are protected. UN secretary-general, António Guterres, recently declared an ‘ocean emergency’ at a UN ocean conference in June.

“We cannot have a healthy planet without a healthy ocean. Our failure to care for the ocean will have ripple effects across the entire 2030 Agenda, “ said Guterres, in reference to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“Sustainable ocean management could help the ocean produce as much as six times more food and generate 40 times more renewable energy than it currently does.“ he said.

The ocean plays a significant role in mitigating the climate crisis, absorbing approximately 90% of heating, including carbon dioxide released by burning fossil fuels. However, according to the 2021 World Meteorological Organisation state of the global climate report, ocean heating was documented at an all-time high.

More to come on this story.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

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