Environment: UN member states continue to wrestle over high-seas agreements

UN member states continue to wrestle with high-seas agreements

A humpback whale off the coast of Ecuador. photo

© Jose Jacome/epa efe/dpa

In order to better protect the oceans, an agreement is to be reached at the United Nations in New York – but the negotiations are tough.

In a marathon session lasting more than 24 hours, the UN member states fought for an agreement to protect the high seas. After a night of negotiations from Friday to Saturday, the diplomats at the conference in New York in the evening (local time) were within reach of a breakthrough – but success could not be guaranteed due to particularly contentious issues. Actually, the conference should have ended on Friday.

In the negotiations, the EU states want above all to ensure that at least 30 percent of the world’s oceans are designated as protected areas in the future. In addition, a procedure is to be established to check economic projects, expeditions and other activities in the seas for their environmental compatibility. Two thirds of the oceans belong to the high seas and are therefore largely unlawful.

There had previously been an agreement at another ocean conference in Panama: the participants pledged almost 20 billion US dollars for the protection of the seas. The US government alone promised almost six billion dollars for 77 projects.


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