Every second time a person takes a breath, it’s because of the oceans. Yet for years, United Nations member states have failed in their efforts to sign a binding treaty to halt the ocean’s decline. At an event on the margins of the General Assembly in New York, Belgium called for action.
‘The high seas occupy most of our planet and are a powerful buffer in the fight against global warming. We owe it to ourselves and future generations to offer her the necessary protection so that she can continue to give us prosperity and prosperity’, said Minister of Justice and North Sea Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD).
Van Quickenborne hosted a Blue Leaders event on Wednesday. The Prime Minister of Curacao, the President of the Seychelles and ministers from Ecuador, Chile and Panama were among those present. Belgium is leading this alliance of more than thirty countries and partner organizations that are campaigning for two goals: to protect 30 percent of the oceans by 2030 and a binding treaty to protect the high seas.
A month ago, another attempt to reach an agreement on that treaty failed in New York. It has been discussed for 15 years, but Member States have widely differing positions and interests. One of the points of contention is the distribution of potential benefits from the exploitation of the genetic resources of the open sea.
The treaty should make it possible to establish protected national parks on the high seas. At least 30 percent of the oceans would need to enjoy that status to have an impact. Currently, only one percent of marine ecosystems are protected.
Oceans cover 70 percent of the Earth’s surface. They play an important role in regulating the climate and in human existence and biodiversity all the way. For example, they produce at least half of all the oxygen on the planet and are home to 80 percent of life on Earth. Climate change, pollution, overfishing and the extraction of oil and gas are a major threat to these vital functions.
Belgium, which protects 37 percent of its territory in the North Sea, and the other Blue Leaders are looking to Montréal, where a conference on the UN Convention on Biodiversity is to be held at the end of this year. It is hoped that Member States will agree on the protection of 30% of the oceans.