“This action is a victory for multilateralism and for global efforts to counter the destructive trends facing ocean health, now and for generations to come,” the UN chief declared in a statement released by his Spokesperson late Saturday night, just hours after the agreement was reached at UN Headquarters in New York, where difficult negotiations on the draught treaty have been ongoing for the past two weeks.

The result of negotiations mediated by the UN that started in 2004 is the agreement achieved by participants in the Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction, or BBNJ for short. 

The legislative structure, which already goes by the name “High Seas Treaty,” would increase funding for marine conservation and regulate who has access to and may exploit marine genetic resources.

The agreement, according to Mr. Guterres’ Spokesperson, is essential for solving the triple global challenges of pollution, biodiversity loss, and climate change. 

The known “30 by 30” pledge to protect 30% of the world’s lands, inland waters, marine, and coastal areas by 2030 was made by a historic UN conference in Montreal this past December. According to the statement, it is also essential for achieving ocean-related goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

Noting that the BBNJ judgement builds on the tradition of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Secretary-General complimented all parties for their ambition, flexibility, and tenacity, and congratulated Singaporean Ambassador Rena Lee for her management and dedication. 

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s official: the ship has arrived,” Ms. Lee said during the event night, to a lengthy standing ovation in the conference room. Delegations will meet again later to formally approve the document.  

The Secretary-General also acknowledged the essential help of non-governmental organisations, civil society, academic institutions, and the scientific community, according to a statement published by the UN Spokesperson. 

“He looks forward to continuing working with all parties to secure a healthier, more resilient, and more productive ocean, benefiting current and future generations,” the statement concluded. 

Csaba Krösi, President of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, also thanked the delegates and Ms. Lee for reaching an agreement on a global legal framework for the high seas on Twitter. “This is a huge win for multilateralism.” “An example of the transformation required by our world and the people we serve,” he continued.


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