World’s Oceans at Risk: U.N. Members Meet Again to Reach Consensus on High Seas Treaty – Food Tank

Agenda for the 21st Century–agenda-for-the-21st-century-agenda212030-this-short-video-explains-what-it.html,target%20of%20the%2021st%20century.

Agenda 21 is a non-binding action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development.[1] It is a product of the Earth Summit (UN Conference on Environment and Development) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. It is an action agenda for the UN, other multilateral organizations, and individual governments around the world that can be executed at local, national, and global levels. One major objective of the Agenda 21 initiative is that every local government should draw its own local Agenda 21. Its aim initially was to achieve global sustainable development by 2000, with the “21” in Agenda 21 referring to the original target of the 21st century.[2

United Nations member states are meeting for the third time in less than a year to reach a consensus on the High Seas Treaty. Advocates including World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) argue that the Treaty is critical to conserving 30 percent of the oceans and protecting aquatic food systems.

WWF reports that just 1 percent of the high seas—which lie outside of national jurisdiction—is currently protected. But change may be underway. At the recent U.N. Global Biodiversity Conference (COP15), 196 countries agreed to protect and conserve at least 30 percent of the ocean and ensure 30 percent of degraded areas are under restoration by 2030.

Pepe Clarke, Oceans Practice Leader at WWF International says that the Treaty is an “essential precondition” to achieve this goal. The Treaty, if adopted, will create a process to establish marine protected area (MPA) networks in areas that lie outside national jurisdiction. And it will establish a global minimum standard for environmental impact assessments.

These changes serve to benefit blue food systems, says Andreas Hansen, Senior Policy Advisor for Ocean and Conservation Finance at TNC. He explains that regulations set by international bodies would ideally comply with standards for environmental impact assessments set by the Treaty. This encompasses fisheries and aquaculture, helping to ensure that they are managed more sustainably.

But reaching an agreement has proven challenging, Hansen says. The oceans “don’t belong to anyone, and they belong to everyone. So they’re a classic example of a global commons,” he tells Food Tank.

Currently, a patchwork of governance bodies and organizations regulate parts of the ocean, “but you don’t have a governance mechanism that looks specifically at conserving and sustainably using marine biodiversity in the high seas,” Hansen tells Food Tank. The Treaty would serve as a “truly powerful new legal tool.”

U.N. member states have engaged in formal and informal talks around a High Seas Treaty over the last 15 years. And at the end of 2022, during the Fifth Intergovernmental Conference to negotiate a legally binding agreement, they failed to reach a consensus.

At the start of the latest round of negotiations, Hansen expressed hope that the global biodiversity framework established during COP15 would serve as a necessary incentive.

But Dr. Laura Meller, Oceans Campaigner of Greenpeace Nordic has expressed concerns as discussions dragged on. “Negotiations have been going around in circles, progressing at a snail’s pace, and this is reflected in the new draft Treaty text,” she says. “It is far from where it should be as we enter the endgame of these negotiations.”

In a statement read during the Conference, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged countries to come to an “robust and ambitious” agreement: “With flexibility and perseverance, you can secure an outcome to help ensure our ocean will be healthier, more resilient, and more productive, benefiting our planet and human kind.”

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