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No agreement has been reached between the member states of the United Nations, who have been meeting for two weeks to agree on a treaty to protect the high seas, in particular through the creation of marine protected areas. Greenpeace has accused the EU, US and Canada of precipitating these negotiations into failure because of their “greed” to keep resources from researching molecules on the high seas for themselves.
The prospect of signing an international treaty to protect the high seas is receding. After two weeks of negotiations, the member states of the UN separated on Friday August 27, without managing to finalize the text. Several major disputes have prevented an agreement that is crucial for the ocean, a fragile and vital treasure for humanity.
The delegations are still opposed on the process of creating marine protected areas, as well as on the methods of application of the obligation of environmental impact studies before a new activity on the high seas.
Among the subjects which divided the Member States, the distribution of the possible profits resulting from the exploitation of the genetic resources of the high seas, where pharmaceutical, chemical and cosmetic industries hope to discover miraculous molecules.
Greenpeace accuses EU, US and Canada of ‘greed’
Responding to requests from developing countries who are afraid of missing out on potential benefits because they cannot conduct this costly research, the latest draft text left on the table the initial redistribution of 2% – and eventually up to 8% – of the future sales of products from these resources that do not belong to anyone. But still in square brackets, meaning no agreement.
Greenpeace had also accused Thursday the EU, the United States and Canada of precipitating these negotiations towards a failure because of their “greed” to keep these resources for them. Charges rejected by a European negotiator.
These questions of North-South equity cross many international negotiations, in particular those on the climate where the developing countries victims but not responsible for the warming claim in vain to the rich countries to respect their promises of financial assistance.
No timetable for further talks
“Despite the disappointment of not having finalized the treaty during these two weeks, we are encouraged by the progress made”, however commented Liz Karan, of the NGO Pew Charitable Trusts, calling for a new session by the end of the month. ‘year.
After more than 15 years of informal and then formal discussions to produce a binding text aimed at safeguarding this vast area which covers almost half of the planet, this 5th session was to be the last – as was already the 4th, in March. But, despite discussions that spilled over into Friday evening, that was not enough.
“We have never been closer to the finish line in this process,” said conference president Rena Lee. The UN General Assembly will now be seized of the request to resume this 5th session on a date yet to be determined.
Time is running out to protect marine ecosystems
This treaty specifically targets the high seas which begins where the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of the States end, at a maximum of 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the coast, and which is therefore not under the jurisdiction of any country.
While the good health of marine ecosystems is crucial for the future of humanity, in particular to limit global warming, only 1% of this space, which represents 60% of the oceans, is protected.
One of the pillars of the treaty on “the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction” is to allow the creation of marine protected areas there. “A crucial step in efforts to protect at least 30% of the planet by 2030,” said Maxine Burkett, an oceans official at the US State Department, this week.
Some experts fear that if the high seas treaty is not concluded by the end of the year, this goal will be out of reach.