Final negotiations on global convention for marine biodiversity protection
On 20 February, the final phase of negotiations began in a UN Intergovernmental Conference on an agreement that concerns 95 per cent of the oceans’ volume. The meeting could result in a historic agreement to protect marine biodiversity. Sweden has a key role at the meeting as holder of the Presidency of the Council of the EU, representing – together with the European Commission – the EU and its Member States.
"Global regulations to reduce environmental impact and create marine protected areas are now within our reach. Sweden has long worked actively to adopt global rules for marine protection and, as holder of the Presidency of the Council of the EU, we will work hard to reach an ambitious agreement,” says Minister for Foreign Affairs Tobias Billström.
“Healthy oceans and seas are a prerequisite for combating poverty and halting climate change. Unfortunately, there is more pollution and litter are at unprecedented levels, while our seas are becoming more acidic and warmer from our carbon dioxide emissions. But we now have the opportunity to adopt a historic agreement that can greatly improve the possibilities to protect marine life. Although Sweden and the EU have long been working to adopt the agreement, there are still difficult and important issues to resolve,” says Minister for Climate and the Environment Romina Pourmokhtari.
From 20 February to 3 March in New York, negotiations are continuing at the Intergovernmental Conference on an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. These areas constitute two thirds of the ocean’s surface area and 95 per cent of its volume. The negotiations are complex and have been ongoing for over 15 years. They include rules for marine protection areas, environmental impact statements, marine genetic resources, capacity-building and technology transfer that are intended to apply collectively.
Press Secretary to Minister for Foreign Affairs Tobias Billström
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UN Convention on the Law of the Sea
The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea was adopted in 1982 and contains the global regulations for the use of the ocean. The Convention has successfully created clear rules for states’ actions in a wide range of areas, although the environmental protection regulations are considered insufficient because they were negotiated before the biodiversity and climate crises were commonly known. There has also been a long dispute over the rules applicable to parts of the ocean and seabed that are beyond national jurisdiction, especially with regard to gains from the use of genetic resources that may have great significant in the development of biotechnology.