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Protecting the world’s oceans – an important goal of Germany’s climate diplomacy

Trash on a beach in Thailand

Trash on a beach in Thailand, © Zoonar.com/Fokke Baarssen

24.08.2022 - Article

The world’s oceans are vital to our survival. They regulate the global climate and are a source of food and income for billions of people. Only a very small part of the seas enjoys legal protection, however. Our diplomats are working in New York right now to change this state of affairs.

Our seas are at risk – owing to overfishing, marine pollution and the climate crisis. One major reason for this is that the seas are, for the most part, a legal vacuum. Two-thirds of the seas lie outside state sovereign territory and special protection measures apply to only a tiny fraction of them.

A binding marine conservation treaty

Germany and the EU have been working for years in the United Nations to ensure the special protection and sustainable use of biological diversity of the seas and the deep ocean floor. From 15 to 26 August, our diplomats will be negotiating with other UN member states in New York with the aim of reaching agreement on a binding marine conservation treaty.

Internationally recognised marine protected areas are to be set up and binding environmental impact assessments of human activities on the high seas established with a marine conservation treaty. All countries should be enabled to participate in the protection and sustainable use of biodiversity through capacity-building and the provision of technologies.

Fifth round of negotiations in New York

The negotiations on a marine conservation treaty commenced five years ago. In 2017, the UN General Assembly established an intergovernmental conference with the mandate to negotiate a legally binding treaty as an amendment to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The fifth round of negotiations is currently under way in New York. Germany and the EU are working with numerous partners to ensure that a global and effective marine conservation treaty is negotiated in full this year.
Further information is available on the website of the United Nations.​​​​​​​

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