Last straight line to avoid a sinking of the treaty on the high seas

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Last straight line to avoid a sinking of the treaty on the high seas

< p class="sc-v64krj-0 dlqbmr">The high seas begin where the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of the States end, at a maximum of 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the coasts.

Member States of the UN tried Friday to overcome their differences to finally snatch an agreement on the treaty to protect the high seas, a fragile and vital treasure that covers almost half of the planet.

After more than After 15 years of informal and then formal discussions, the negotiators are coming to the end of two more weeks of talks in New York, the third last session in less than a year.

In a brief plenary session on Friday morning, the conference chair called on delegates to be as flexible as possible in this final effort, which could extend well into the future. Friday night to Saturday.

“Although it was a slow start, we are happy to see the rise of the political momentum in recent days.

— Pacific States Representative

He added that he remains hopeful of bringing the treaty to a successful conclusion.

But several disputes are still on the table: procedure for creating areas protected marine areas, method of implementing environmental impact studies for activities planned on the high seas, or sharing of potential benefits from marine genetic resources.

So there is optimism, but also nervousness, Minna Epps of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) told AFP on Friday. At least, constructive or not, there is commitment from all parties, which was not the case before.

In this final stretch, observers hope a political boost from the Our Ocean conference which takes place in parallel in Panama in the presence of many ministers who are concerned with the protection and sustainable use of the oceans.

“Life on Earth depends on a healthy ocean. The new High Seas Treaty will be crucial to our shared goal of protecting 30% of the oceans by 2030.”

—Monica Medina, U.S. Department of State Oceans Officer.

In December, all of the world's governments pledged to protect 30% of the planet's land and oceans by 2030. A nearly impossible challenge without including the high seas, of which only about 1% is protected today.

The high seas begin where the States' exclusive economic zones (EEZs) end, no more than 200 nautical miles (370 km) from shore , and it is therefore not under the jurisdiction of any country.

Although it represents more than 60% of the oceans and almost half of the planet, it has long been ignored, in favor of coastal areas and emblematic species.

However, ocean ecosystems produce half of the oxygen we breathe, limit global warming by absorbing a large part of the CO2 emitted by human activities, and feed part of humanity. But they are threatened by climate change, pollution of all kinds and overfishing.

“Despite the various outstanding issues, and the list is long, my impression is that there will be an agreement at the end of this session.

— Greenpeace's Shuo

For him, as for many observers interviewed by AFP, it all boils down to North versus South, to the issue of justice and equity.

Developing countries are indeed worried about not being fully party to the treaty due to a lack of financial resources; and fear being deprived of their piece of the commercialization pie of potential miraculous molecules discovered in these international waters.

With an announcement seen as a gesture to boost confidence North South, the European Union has promised New York 40 million euros to facilitate the ratification of the treaty and its initial implementation.

Beyond, she announced more than 800 million euros devoted to the protection of the oceans in general for 2023 during the conference in Panama where the United States put on the table 77 projects for the oceans valued at nearly 6 billion of dollars.

According to several observers, resolving these financial issues, which are politically very sensitive, could unlock the rest and finally allow the text to be submitted for the approval of the conference.< /p>

If agreed, it remains to be seen whether, with the compromises made, the text will be strong enough to effectively protect the oceans.

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