I’ve just returned from a meeting of governments at the United Nations in New York, and come bearing even more exciting things than Duty Free gifts. The UN just took another step closer to a new Treaty protecting marine life on the high seas. The “high seas” are waters which don’t belong to  any one nation, but are  everyone's responsibility to protect. That may sound wishy-washy if you haven’t been following this as closely as me, but the implications are huge.

 Dolphins in Alboran Sea 12/07/2017  © Pablo Blazquez / Greenpeace Dolphins seen swimming in the Alboran Sea, 2017

This is an important step towards protecting half the surface of our planet.

With consensus that action needs to be taken, the next step is to develop this new Treaty that protects marine life in these waters; waters which cover two thirds of the world’s oceans. It’s a major agreement to aim for.

“The truth is, the sea has a special relationship with all of us.  It keeps us alive. But that relationship is now under threat as never before.” Said UN Secretary General Guterres earlier in June introducing the UN Ocean Conference. The progress made at that conference helped build the necessary resolve for action last week in New York.

It has been inspiring to see some of the poorer countries -- from the Pacific, to Africa, to Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean whose people’s ways of life, and in some cases, very existence is threatened by ocean degradation -- standing up to a handful of wealthy nations, which are profiting from the current lack of protection rules to pursue their short-term interests. Supported by European countries, Australia, New Zealand and even by previously skeptical nations such as Canada and Norway, the “Davids” of the ocean have been fighting till the very end against these few Goliaths, saying “enough is enough”. And they won.

Protest with Banner at Alboran Sea 12/07/2017 © Pablo Blazquez / Greenpeace Activists hold a banner that reads: "UN Act Now!", 2017

Being amongst the delegates at the meeting in New York, you could really feel the eyes of the world on proceedings, especially with young people on social media sending messages of hope and calling for urgent action for ocean protection and #OceanSanctuaries. We delivered many messages directly as a reminder of what this is all about: protecting our fragile blue planet for present and future generations. And they listened.

Now we need to conclude this “Year of the Ocean” with the UN General Assembly launching the negotiations for a new Ocean Treaty in 2018.

The science is clear, we have to act now. But after this week of seeing what people power can do,  with your continuing support I am confident that we’ll succeed.

Veronica Frank is a Political Advisor at Greenpeace international