On the final morning of a UN Meeting striving to achieve historic protection for the high seas, environmental organizations applauded the vast majority of States working hard to bring about a positive outcome.
Members of the High Seas Alliance attending the negotiations said they were encouraged by initial calls to convene an intergovernmental conference to develop a new, legally binding instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Although the final text is still under negotiation, the expressions of support from the majority of states to move forward is encouraging.
Lacking, however, is a clear agreement on a timeframe for the intergovernmental conference. Despite the urgency called for by heads of state at the Rio+20 conference, a small number of states remain reluctant to commit to a deadline. The HSA is advocating for an ambitious time-bound process, beginning in 2016, which reflects the perilous state and urgent need of the ocean itself.
Speaking on behalf of the HSA, Lisa Speer of member organization Natural Resource Defense Council said “we are encouraged by how strongly the majority of states have fought to protect the high seas. That gives us the greatest hope that, ultimately, we will achieve something historic.”
Sofia Tsenikli of Greenpeace said “ the UN negotiators have the public on their side. We ask them to keep in mind the urgency of the deepening ocean crisis. Scientists warn there is simply no time to waste if we are to avoid irreversible damage.”