More than just a drop
We all know how important the oceans are – or perhaps it would be more apt to say ‘should be’? – to us and to life on earth. Around 90% of all goods in transit are carried on the world’s waters. The high seas account for approximately two thirds of the oceans and are vital not only to humanity but also for biodiversity.
A major goal to protect the maritime biosphere was achieved recently. After a marathon 40-hour negotiation session the member states of the United Nations – after years of difficult negotiations – signed off on an agreement to protect the world’s oceans. According to the agreement, 30% of the world’s oceans will become protected areas. To the applause of delegates at the UN headquarters in New York, Rena Lee, Singapore’s ambassador for oceans and law of the sea issues, who chaired the conference, said that “the ship has reached the shore.”
The agreement sets out how economic projects, expeditions and other activities in the oceans must be assessed for their environmental impact. In addition, it will place biodiversity on the high seas under internationally binding protection.
No more substantial discussions will now be reopened, she said. The content of the text won’t be published for the time being, however, as it’ll now be reviewed by lawyers and translated into the six official UN languages.
For me this news symbolises more than just a drop in the ocean. Rather, the agreement can represent a huge step forward towards realising the possibilities of managing transport routes, especially those on the world’s waterways, with a more orderly and climate-friendly approach. We eagerly await further details.