The first global treaty on ocean protection has been signed

The historic breakthrough for the future of the oceans came on Sunday, March 5, at the end of a 48-hour marathon, when it was just past midnight in Italy. In New York, at the United Nations headquarters Glass Palace, after 15 years of negotiations, the visibly excited Conference Chair Rana Lee announced that agreement had been reached among UN member states, who signed the first global treaty on ocean protection.

The treaty consists of three points, which constitute three firm commitments. Between now and 2030, 30 percent of the high seas must be protected. A quota that, to be understood, corresponds to two-thirds of the oceans, which in turn corresponds to almost half of the entire planet. Therefore, it was decided to establish marine protected areas, more funds are allocated for the conservation of the marine environment, and access to and use of its resources is regulated. In addition, from now on, a COP, i.e., a conference of the parties on a par with the climate conference, will also be held periodically for the high seas to discuss biodiversity and governance.

To understand what this is all about, it is necessary to start with some objective facts.

First: oceans produce half of the oxygen that humans breathe.

Second: oceans account for 95 percent of Earth's biosphere.

Third: oceans absorb CO2 and thus curb global warming.

Until now, regulations had only covered coastlines and those parts of the sea that fall under national jurisdictions. Anything beyond 200 nautical miles-what is called the high seas and which represents, with its millions of living species, the largest natural habitat we have-had never been regulated by an agreement. Which, after what happened in New York, shows how it is possible to make the principle of the fundamental importance of environmental protection prevail over geopolitics, given that the understanding saw the United States, China and Europe agree.

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