Dubai, 2 December 2023: Recognizing that the ocean is the Earth’s most powerful climate regulator, Ministers and government representatives from across Asia, the Pacific, Africa, the Middle East and Europe urged all countries to accelerate ocean protections by swiftly ratifying the new High Seas Treaty during a high-level event held today at the 28th Conference of the Parties (CoP) of the UNFCCC in Dubai. On the same day, during his address at COP28, President Emmanuel Macron of France reaffirmed the goal of ratifying the High Seas Treaty by the 2025 UN Ocean Conference in Nice, to be co-hosted by France and Costa Rica.
During High Ambition for the High Seas, organized by the governments of Mauritania, Palau and Australia together with Monash University, the High Seas Alliance and other partners, Ministers from UAE, France, the Philippines and Nigeria, along with government representatives from Palau, Mauritania and Australia declared their support for the swift ratification and entry into force of the new High Seas Treaty to safeguard the ocean. The event highlighted that through regional cooperation and collaboration, momentum for ratification of this landmark global Treaty is growing.
The new High Seas Treaty heralds a sea-change in ocean protection. It is a key tool that will help tackle the climate and biodiversity crises and address ocean and climate justice,” said Rebecca Hubbard, Director of the High Seas Alliance. “As with the Paris Agreement, it is crucial that it is signed and ratified fast so that we can start securing the ocean’s ability to continue providing us with essential climate and ecosystem services.
The ocean plays an essential role in regulating our global climate and is a natural carbon sink, absorbing about 90% of excess heat and about 30% of carbon emissions caused by human activities. Yet a lack of formal protections has left the two thirds of the ocean that is the High Seas increasingly vulnerable to over-exploitation, causing species loss and ecosystems damage. Currently, only 1% of the High Seas is fully protected.
84 countries have signed the High Seas Treaty since it formally opened for State signatures at the United Nations on 20 September 2023. However, at least 60 countries must now ratify the Treaty for it to enter into force. Once that happens, it will become the world’s first international Treaty to mandate the conservation and management of Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ). The Treaty is critical to reach global goals to protect 30% of the ocean by 3030 by enabling the establishment of High Seas marine protected areas and to safeguard the ocean from human pressures through comprehensive environmental impact assessments to better regulate activities that may harm the High Seas, such as plans to capture and store large amounts of carbon in the ocean.
As the Race for Ratification of the High Seas Treaty gets underway, ocean temperatures are reaching record highs and marine life – and all our lives – are under unprecedented pressure. We call on all countries to integrate the ratification and implementation of the High Seas Treaty into their National Adaptation Plans and to boost ocean-climate ambition for the High Seas at CoP28 and during the Global Stocktake. The sooner counties ratify the Treaty, the sooner we can chart a better course for our ocean, our climate and our future,”added Hubbard.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
High Ambition for the High Seas was attended by: Dr. Mohammed Salman Alhammadi, Vice Minister, Ministry of Climate Change and Environment of the United Arab Emirates; M. Hervé Berville, Minister of State for the Sea of France; Hon. Maria Antonia Yulo Loyzaga, Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources of Philippines; H.E Dr. Iziaq Adekunle Salako, Minister for Environment of Nigeria; Ms Gwen Sisior, Lead Ocean Negotiator for Pacific Small Island Developing States on behalf of the Government of Palau; Mr Mohamed Fadel BAL, Advisor on Climate Change and Sustainable Development of Mauritania; and Ms Elise Murphy, Director of Climate Inclusion and Intersectionality Policy, Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.
Signing the Treaty does not establish consent for States to be bound to the Treaty, but it does express the willingness of the signatory State to continue the treaty-making process and for it to proceed to ratification. Signing also creates an obligation to refrain, in good faith, from acts that would defeat the object and the purpose of the Treaty. Following signature, countries can ratify the Agreement at any time. Ratification is when nations formally consent to the new international law, and this often entails ensuring that their national laws are consistent with it. The speed and process to ratify varies by country. In some countries, the act of ratification is simply a Leader’s decree, while in others Parliamentary approval is needed.
There are 193 Member States to the United Nations. See a full list on the High Seas Treaty Ratification Tracker.
Find out more about the High Seas Alliance and its new #RaceForRatification campaign at www.highseasalliance.org/treaty-ratification.
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Images of the event are available upon request. Photos credit: Kashfi Halford
Photos Credit: Kashfi Halford