New York — UN Ocean Treaty talks are on the brink of failure because of the greed of countries in the High Ambition Coalition and others like Canada and the United States. They have prioritised hypothetical future profits from Marine Genetics Resources over protecting the oceans. This is undermining progress made on Marine Protected Areas in the draft Treaty text, and talks are now set to fail.

The High Ambition Coalition is risking abject failure to deliver on their commitments to protect the oceans and finalise a Treaty in 2022. Not only are they failing to finalise a Treaty during this round of negotiations, but the text is lowering its ambition by the minute. We are facing a Treaty that will struggle to deliver 30×30, and takes an unfair and neocolonial approach by refusing to commit any finance for the benefit of all countries. 

Sarah King, Head of Oceans & Plastics with Greenpeace Canada, said:

“Fisheries and Oceans Minister Murray has been silent on UN negotiations that will determine the fate of life in two-thirds of the global oceans and impact all of us. Instead, Canada is prioritising hypothetical future profits over people and our blue planet. 

I am gutted at the thought that this once-in-a-generation opportunity to help recover the devastating loss in the oceans is about to be squandered. Leaders’ eyes are open to the marine biodiversity crisis and the science that warns of the irreversible consequences of delays on protection. It is equal parts infuriating and heartbreaking to know that billions of people and numerous species around the world will suffer because of political inertia.”

Laura Meller, a Greenpeace oceans campaigner, said from New York:

“The oceans sustain all life on Earth, but the greed of a few countries means this round of talks for a UN Ocean Treaty are now set to fail. The High Ambition Coalition has utterly failed. They should be the No Ambition Coalition. They’ve obsessed over their hypothetical future profits, undermining all the other progress made at these talks. Unless Ministers urgently pick up the phone today to their counterparts and hammer out a deal, this Treaty process will fail.

“Less than two months ago I was in Lisbon, at the UN Ocean Conference, listening to these leaders promise they would deliver a strong Global Ocean Treaty this year. Now we are in New York and the leaders are nowhere to be found. They’ve broken their promises.”

“We are sad and angry. Billions of people rely on healthy oceans, and world leaders have failed all of them. It now looks like protecting 30% of the world’s oceans will be impossible. Scientists say this is the absolute minimum necessary to protect the oceans, and failure at these talks will jeopardise the livelihoods and food security of billions. We’re beyond disappointed.”

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned back in June at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon that the “egoism” of some countries was hampering progress in these talks. At that same conference, countries committed at the highest political levels to delivering a strong Treaty. They have not delivered on their commitments. 

Failure to agree a Treaty in 2022 will make delivering 30×30, protecting 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030, practically impossible. There are still two full days of negotiations remaining. With talks set to fail, countries must now take urgent action, show flexibility and find compromise to deliver a strong Treaty text tomorrow. Ministers must also call counterparts to hammer out a deal, or talks will fail.


A photo and video gallery is available here.


Brandon Wei, Communications officer, Greenpeace Canada

[email protected], +1 778 772-6138

James Hanson, Global Media Lead, Greenpeace UK

[email protected], +44 7801 212 994

Follow @greenpeacepress on Twitter for our latest international press releases