Major breakthrough for Ocean Lovers: UN takes landmark step towards high seas biodiversity agreement
by Guest Blogger
January 26, 2015
© Paul Hilton / Greenpeace
Big change looks impossible when you start, and inevitable when you finish Bob HunterIt was nearly a decade ago that we first challenged the world's governments to create a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of the world's oceans with the publication of our Roadmap to Recovery. Arctic sanctuary). Of course, having set out this vision we then had to see how such a network could actually be established since there is currently no mechanism to create ocean sanctuaries on the high seas. Thus grew the notion and the campaign for the UN High Seas Biodiversity Agreement, attracting thousands of supporters wordwide. In 2012, we managed to secure one of the very few positive outcomes of Rio+20: a deadline of September 2015 by which the UN had to come to a decision on whether to commence negotiations for this new crucial high seas agreement. Last week, with the Rio+20 deadline looming, Ocean Lovers' calls for ocean protection were met with overwhelming support from the majority of countries. Together, those calls became an irresistible force, and the support gave our champions the strength to convince the handful of (powerful) countries that had been opposing the agreement for years. A key #OceanLovers Resolution for 2015called governments to "Say YES! to a High Seas Biodiversity Agreement" and in the small hours of Saturday, they finally did. We were particularly happy to see the United States come onboard, as they have been leading the opposition for many years. It is clear that the thousands of messages sent to US Secretary of State John Kerry a declared Ocean Lover had a lot to do with this change. In June 2014, Greenpeaceand others around the world (including in Sweden, Germany, France, India, Australia, Korea, andArgentina) sent "Dear John" letters to US embassies and to Secretary Kerry directly, urging him to "Act for the High Seas" during the Our Ocean conference in Washington DC. Last week alone, John Kerry's Twitter account received more than a thousand messages in just one day, asking him tolisten and act for the ocean. A massive 'thank you' to all you #OceanLovers out there who took action. As John Kerry said at his conference: "The Ocean movement is a hard ass group of folks"! The next phase of our campaign will nonetheless be tough, especially as we need to stand together and fight ocean exploiting industries such as those behind the poorly performing Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) which have overseen a dramatic fall in the majority of world fish stocks. We still have a long way to reach our final destination of a network of sanctuaries covering 40% of our oceans. The formal outcome of the meetings last week now must be adopted by the UN General Assembly by September 2015 in order to move forward with negotiations for a legally binding agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which must be implemented over the coming years. Our voyage for Oceans Protection has begun and the growing strength of the Ocean Lovers movement will support us through the many battles that will lie ahead. Stay with us for the course of this journey, #OceanLovers: we have turned a significant corner but we will need all your help to achieve total victory for our oceans.