UN negotiations call for faster steps to ensure ‘critical’ maritime health

LISBON, Portugal (AP) – A UN conference on Friday warned that measures needed to protect the world’s oceans are delayed and called on countries to speed up their implementation.

More than 6,000 senior officials, scientists and activists from more than 120 countries attended a five-day UN Conference on the Sea in Lisbon, Portugal.

A statement released on the last day said delegates were “deeply concerned about the global emergency facing the sea”, whose sustainability is “critical” to the planet.

The statement said that “action does not progress at the speed or scale required to achieve our goals.”

“Greater ambitions are needed at all levels to deal with the dire state of the sea,” it concluded.

The oceans face threats, including global warming, pollution and acidification.

An important step is a new international agreement on biodiversity outside national jurisdiction, also known as the Treaty on the High Seas.

This treaty aims to establish a comprehensive legal framework for the high seas, covering about 70% of the earth’s surface and providing food and livelihoods to billions of people.

However, after 10 years of negotiations, the negotiating countries have still not reached an agreement, which frustrates activists. A fifth round of negotiations is scheduled for August in New York.

Greenpeace said words were not enough.

Laura Meller of the environmental group’s Protect the Oceans campaign said that “if declarations could save the oceans, they would not be on the brink of collapse.”

The crisis will come at next month’s negotiations, with governments aiming to finalize the Global Sea Treaty, which seeks to ensure at least 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030.

“Anything less than that is just not enough,” Meller said.

French President Emmanuel Macron and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attended part of the conference.

Guterres blamed the “selfishness” of some countries for not concluding a global maritime agreement so far.

Remi Parmentier, director of the Varda Group ocean think tank, told the Associated Press that the Lisbon conference would be remembered “as the moment the tide turned for deep-sea mining.”

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