Lisbon ( Associated Press) – The United Nations hopes an international conference starting Monday will boost long-running efforts to reach a global agreement to protect the world’s oceans.
The five-day UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, has brought together high-level officials and scientists from more than 120 countries, as well as activists angered by the failure, in the southwestern European port city. sustainability.
There is no global legal framework covering the open ocean. Oceans cover about 70% of the planet’s surface and provide food and livelihoods for billions of people. Some activists describe them as the world’s largest unregulated sector.
In his opening speech at the conference, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged countries to show “unity and solidarity in the affairs of the sea”.
“Sadly, we have taken the ocean lightly and today we are facing an ocean emergency,” Guterres said. “We must change course.”
According to the United Nations, threats to the oceans include global warming, pollution, acidification and other problems. There are also no rules for deep sea mining, which can cause damage to the ecosystem.
The objective of the convention is to ratify a declaration that, although it will not be binding, will help to implement and facilitate the protection and conservation of the oceans and their resources, according to the United Nations. The announcement will be approved on Friday.
But still far out of reach is the important new international agreement on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction, also known as the High Seas Treaty.
That treaty is being negotiated within the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the main international agreement on human maritime activity.
However, even after 10 years of talks, including the fourth round of talks three months ago, no agreement is in sight. There is a fifth round scheduled for August in New York.
“The world’s largest ecosystem … remains vulnerable and is dying before our eyes,” activist group Ocean Rebellion said ahead of the Lisbon conference.
Activist groups planned to demonstrate in Atlantic City during the meeting.
Despite the disappointments, the UN said, the summit is “an important opportunity” to move towards a high seas treaty, with delegates informally discussing possible ways.
The conference was also expected to reaffirm and carry forward 62 commitments made by governments at the previous edition in Nairobi, Kenya in 2018, such as protecting small island states with ocean-based economies, sustainable fishing and combating global warming. Doing.
This year will also discuss funding models for ocean conservation as well as exploring innovative, science-based solutions that can improve ocean health.
Those in attendance will include US climate envoy John Kerry and French President Emmanuel Macron.