Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter: Strengthen Governance for the Global Commons

Date: 18th June 2015

Earlier today, His Holiness Pope Francis delivered the much-anticipated Encyclical Letter, “On Care for Our Common Home” addressing the need for collective action in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss. Within this prophetic appeal, he addresses many issues contributing to the global environmental crisis and specifically highlights the current exploitation of ocean and marine ecosystems. This includes the impact of ocean acidification, made-made pollution, vanishing marine biodiversity and uncontrolled fisheries. The Encyclical also lauds the importance of environmental impact assessments as “part of the process from the beginning”, transparency in decision-making, intra-generational equity, and the precautionary principle.

The High Seas Alliance welcomes this powerful and insightful plea for much needed action toward ocean conservation and governance. We applaud His Holiness for acknowledging the ocean’s indispensible role in ensuring the health of the planet and support his plea that an ‘agreement on systems of governance’ is urgently needed to adequately safeguard these areas beyond national jurisdiction as well as “global regulatory norms”:

“International and regional conventions do exist, but fragmentation and the lack of strict mechanisms of regulation, control and penalization end up undermining these efforts. The growing problem of marine waste and the protection of the open seas represent particular challenges. What is needed, in effect, is an agreement on systems of governance for the whole range of so-called “global commons.” (Para 174).

The High Seas Alliance supports the ocean issues outlined by His Holiness and hopes that this inspiring call to action signals a move to global awareness of our unified responsibility in safeguarding our planet, our ocean, and its resources for future generations.

For full Encyclical Letter, see http://m.vatican.va/content/francescomobile/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html

Photo by Ashwin Vaswani on Unsplash

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