New York – Today, Javier Bardem, Jane Fonda, Helen Mirren, and other celebrities renowned for their environmental advocacy joined with the Greenpeace network and several other civil society organizations from around the world to issue an open letter to delegates at the United Nations urging them to adopt a strong Global Ocean Treaty this week.
The letter states: “The need for action is urgent. Governments first discussed a new Treaty almost two decades ago. While they’ve talked, the ocean crisis has deepened. Countless species and habitats have been destroyed or lost.”
The full letter text, along with the list of 47 signatories, is available in this blog.
The letter was sent as concerns have arisen from some member states and civil society that delegates attending the final round of negotiations on the treaty are not treating them with the urgency that the ocean crisis warrants. A Treaty is required to provide a legal mechanism to create a global network of fully and highly protected ocean sanctuaries on the High Seas. The health of the world’s oceans is threatened by plastic pollution, destructive fishing practices, warming waters, oil spills, and the spread of dead zones.
The negotiations, now in the second and final week, were advanced with a new draft text circulated on Sunday. Despite the inertia, delay and differences between the parties that have plagued the negotiations, this draft might still make it possible to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030 – the absolute minimum scientists say is required to give the oceans space to recover.
Laura Meller of Greenpeace’s Protect the Oceans campaign, who is attending the meeting, said: “This new text means we’re still in the fight as we go into the final days, and that’s more than many of us expected at the end of last week. It’s now vital that as we enter the endgame, governments raise their ambition one last time. The EU, UK, Canada, USA and other governments have all committed to delivering a strong Treaty at this round of negotiations. World leaders must ensure their rhetoric matches their ambition at negotiations. The future of our blue planet is at stake. Delegates have a chance to achieve something truly historic. They must deliver this week.”
The letter was preceded by another message to the delegates on Sunday via large scale projections onto the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Representatives of communities on the frontlines of the ocean crisis from Mexico, Mauritius, Nigeria, and Thailand gave powerful reminders of the billions of lives and livelihoods that are at stake and delivered impassioned pleas for world leaders to adopt a Treaty before it’s too late. Messages from Jane Fonda and Bonnie Wright were also projected onto the iconic building. Jane Fonda also addressed delegates gathered at a reception hosted by the High Seas Alliance on Monday 15 August.
Photo and video of the projections are available in the Greenpeace Media Library.
For these negotiations to be considered a success, the Treaty should set as a primary objective the establishment of a global network of ocean sanctuaries (or MPAs). Supporters of the treaty hope that it will provide a first-ever legal framework for the protection of biodiversity in international waters, including the creation of ocean sanctuaries, environmental rules, and the application of Environmental Impact Assessments preceding any human activities on the waters that make up nearly half of the planet.
James Hanson, Global Media Lead, Greenpeace UK, [email protected], +44 7801 212 994