Montreal, 17th December 2022, Today, Ministers meeting in the sidelines of CBD COP15, one of the most critical conferences for biodiversity this century, recognized the importance of working together to secure the finalization of an ambitious new treaty to safeguard marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), commonly known, as the High Seas. Ministers and high-level officials from Australia, Canada, European Commission, France, Germany, Palau, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the USA attended the meeting, together with members from civil society and Indigenous peoples and local communties.
Many governments are part of the High Ambition Coalition for BBNJ, that was launched by the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen in Brest, France at the One Ocean Summit, at the initiative of French President Macron. This Coalition is a political commitment by countries wanting to adopt a meaningful and robust UN Ocean Treaty as soon as possible. 51 members have joined to date.
The meeting organized by the Government of France, E.U., the NGO Coalition High Seas Alliance and the IUCN, aimed to raise awareness and political will to ensure that ocean governance receive a significant boost by the agreement of a new High Seas Treaty at the next round of BBNJ negotiations at the United Nations in New York from 20th February to 3rd March 2023. This Treaty was expected to be finalized following years of intense discussions at the last Intergovernmental Conference (IGC5) in August. However, governments ran out of time to find the common ground to finish negotiations.
A healthy planet is not possible without a healthy ocean. Given that the High Seas cover almost 50% of the planet, this new instrument is vital for the protection of marine biodiversity in these areas outside of national jurisdiction, where governments are responsible to work together to conserve this vast area.
This renewed commitment by Ministers is especially poignant as governments grapple in the final days of CBD COP15 to agree on a strong target to protect at least 30% of land and sea.
Ministers confirmed to maintain political momentum and mobilization in the coming weeks through high-level engagement to find the compromises that bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion in early March but will still result in a robust and future-proof treaty that sets the rules to safeguard high seas marine biodiversity for the benefit of all humankind.