Representatives from more than 100 countries pledged to take action to save the ocean from human harm, including stepping up the fight against illegal fishing, reducing plastic pollution and better protecting international waters.
French President Emmanuel Macron, host of the high-level session of the One Ocean summit on Friday, said 2022 was “a decisive year, and we must make clear and firm commitments here in Brest”.
US climate envoy John Kerry said it was “the ocean that makes life on Earth possible, produces more than half the oxygen we breathe – and even that is at risk. The ocean and the climate are inextricably linked. They are one. »
The 27 EU states and 16 others have agreed to pursue a global agreement by the end of the year to regulate the sustainable use of the high seas – waters outside a country’s jurisdiction – and preserve their biodiversity.
“We are so close, but we have to push [to get the treaty signed in 2022]said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the summit. The hope is that a fourth and final round of UN negotiations will result in an agreement in New York in March.
Peggy Kalas of the High Seas Alliance said the announcement was “a timely and important commitment to protecting our global commons”. But Francois Chartier, of Greenpeace France, said activists “await concrete action on conservation mechanisms and governance”.
While 30 other countries have also signed up to the so-called 30×30 coalition, which was launched in January 2021 and aims to protect 30% of the world’s land and seas by 2030, “clarification is lacking on the level of protection of marine areas covered,” says Chartier.
France said it had exceeded the target of classifying 30% of the land and sea areas under its jurisdiction as protected areas after the creation of the second largest marine protected area in the world, around its southern and Antarctic lands.
The United States said it would support opening talks at the UN for an international agreement on plastic pollution, backing the EU27 and a dozen other countries.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has joined forces with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the French, German, Italian and Spanish development banks in a “clean oceans initiative aiming to reduce the 9 million tonnes of plastic that end up in the ocean each. year, pledging 4 billion euros in funding by 2025.
Half a dozen additional countries have joined a “Global Plastics Economy Commitment” supported by the United Nations Environment Program to help governments and businesses transition to a circular economy aimed at recycling or reusing 100% of all plastics.
In an effort to further curb illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, which accounts for nearly a fifth of global catches, six more countries have pledged to ratify the International Maritime Organization’s Cape Town Agreement setting standards for safety for fishing boats.
Two others said they would ratify an agreement controlling fishing activities in the ports where catches were landed, and several EU member states agreed to deploy their navies in overseas operations to step up surveillance of illegal fishing.
Meanwhile, 22 European shipowners have committed to new targets to reduce underwater noise, emissions, residues and oil spills, 18 ports around the world have committed to reduce berth emissions, and Mediterranean countries as well as the EU have said they aim to transform the Mediterranean into a low sulfur region. emission zone by 2025.
France and Colombia have announced a global “blue carbon” coalition to help fund the restoration of coastal ecosystems such as salt marshes, seagrasses and mangroves that are capable of absorbing and storing large amounts of carbon.
French officials said the summit, attended in person or virtually by heads of state and government from 41 countries, marked the start of a series of key ocean-focused international meetings, including the United Nations Conference. United on the oceans in Lisbon in June and COP27 in Egypt. in autumn.