Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) UN member states are to meet in New York next week to discuss new rules aimed at protecting international waters.

The move is part of the UN’s plan to protect 30% of the world ocean by 2030, on which informal and formal talks started roughly 15 years ago, according to France24 reporting on Friday.

The New York meeting will be the third on this topic in the last 12 months, with the last one held in August last year ending with no agreement.

In January, the US joined the High Ambition Coalition on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction headed by the EU, which environmental activists say is a step towards reaching a final agreement.

Liz Karan, head of ocean governance at The Pew Charitable Trusts NGO, pointed out “there are a lot of negotiations and discussions happening between delegations trying to find middle ground on some of the key sticky issues… at a level that we haven’t seen before.”

She expressed hope that the coming meeting in New York will be the final one.

EC calls for haste

Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries, pointed out that the EU-headed coalition wants to protect the world ocean urgently and described the coming round of talks as crucial.

On the other hand, Glen Wright, senior researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, pointed out “it would be better to take more time and ensure a strong agreement with political momentum, rather than hurriedly adopt a subpar agreement.”

He noted that another delay “would be a huge disappointment,” but stressed the importance of quality.

The future treaty focuses on the “conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction” with the aim of setting up marine protected areas there.

UN members do not agree on the sharing of potential profits from the use of any genetic resources in protected areas, which chemical, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical companies hope to find there.

Developing countries pointed out that they do not have the capacity to carry out research and noted that they could miss out on any benefits of resources in international waters.


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