Climate Action

World leaders meet to discuss United Nations ocean treaty

Global leaders have begun talks in New York this week to discuss the long-awaited UN ocean treaty, a decade in the making.

  • 07 September 2018
  • Rachel Cooper

Global leaders have begun talks in New York this week to discuss the long-awaited UN ocean treaty, a decade in the making.

The intergovernmental conference to draft the first‑ever treaty to conserve and protect marine diversity on the high seas is of extreme importance because currently there is no global policy that protects our oceans.

Currently, 12.7 million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans each year, 100,000 mammals die each year from this plastic pollution.

Professor Alex Rogers from Oxford University, who has provided evidence to inform the UN treaty process, said: “The half of our planet which is high seas is protecting terrestrial life from the worst impacts of climate change. Yet we do too little to safeguard that or to protect the life within the ocean which is intrinsic to our collective survival.”

There are several organisations such as Parley for the Oceans and Outerknown that are raising awareness for the protection of marine life however, they do not have global power. Recently, influential figures such as the Swimmer, Lewis Pugh, have directed awareness at the government to protect our oceans.

Dr Sandra Schoettner, Greenpeace's global ocean sanctuaries campaign, speaking from outside the UN said: ““The fate of our oceans is in the hands of everyone in these negotiations. It's no exaggeration to say that the governments meeting today are making history as we speak. It is urgent they create a strong ocean treaty which allows us to create a global network of ocean sanctuaries.”

In 1982, the UN adopted the Convention of the Law of the Sea but the high seas were not included. Over the next two years the treaty is expected to provide and implement several proposes to protect the high seas.

Photo Credit: Greenpeace