Author: Jessica Battle
After four days and a hard night of negotiations, governments meeting at the UN last week took a historic step toward ending the centuries-long free for all on the high seas.
We have the green light to negotiate the first major UN treaty for 30 years, and we can now look to a future in which we bring conservation for the benefit of all to these vital global commons.
From the outside looking in, I know an “agreement to negotiate” may not seem like headline news. You may wonder why I do this, and I have asked myself the same thing, sitting in windowless meeting rooms for weeks on end (this process started in 2004!). But focusing on the slow pace misses the point: when progress comes at the UN – when all states agree – we can achieve great things.
Just imagine if fisheries are managed across the ocean; if all users of ocean resources are governed by one integrated framework. We can achieve healthy oceans for our children and their children, and that makes it worthwhile for me.
Progress last week came despite pressure from a small group of governments that questioned the need for a new legal framework. That minority blocked agreement on a faster timeline – one that would reflect the clear scientific imperative – but all countries eventually agreed on the need to act.
Cover photo by Alexei Ebel/ WWF-Canon