September 18, 2019
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The world is at work on a treaty to protect the oceans

United Nations, Aug 19 (efe-epa).- Countries of the United Nations set out this Monday to perfect an ambitious treaty to protect the biodiversity of the oceans, an urgent matter in the struggle for sustainable development.

For two weeks, the 193 countries of the UN will work on the draft treaty presented by the president of the Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biology, the Singapore diplomat Rena Lee, so that in less than a year it will become an "international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of the area beyond national jurisdiction."

Lee said at the inaugural session that the situation must be turned around if global biodiversity is to be protected, and urged member countries to develop a deeper, more detailed version of that instrument "as soon as possible."

The draft stressed the need for "transformative change" to end the increasingly "negative trends in nature, in ecosystem functions."

Miguel de Serpa Soares, secretary-general of the Intergovernmental Conference, citing the latest global evaluation of biodiversity, said that 66 percent of ocean water is suffering "increasing cumulative human impacts" due to man's activities on Earth.

The diplomat, who noted that "it has become clear that ocean processes and climate change processes are inexorably linked," also said that "this Conference can, and it is my hope that it will, play an important role in turning the tide against this rapid decline."

To make sure of that, participants will work on the text of the treaty as part of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea with regard to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in seas outside any nation's jurisdiction.

The draft copy, presented by Lee after the first two meetings held in September 2018 and March of this year, is divided into "four thematic clusters."

The first, the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity, includes matters regarding participation in the benefits produced by its exploitation; the mechanisms for managing those areas, especially the protected zones; the evaluation of environmental impact; and the creation of conservation capabilities and the sharing of marine technology.

International organizations and NGOs have called attention to the importance of protecting the oceans, where more than 700,000 species live, because, as Greenpeace says, the future of mankind depends on how the oceans are cared for or not.

For that reason, Greenpeace and Spanish actor Javier Bardem sought Monday to get the attention of governments and public opinion as to the dangers facing the world's oceans, at an event in New York's Times Square.

"I am one of many that want this to happen. There is a growing global movement of millions outside of these negotiations demanding the protection of our oceans, and the whales, turtles, penguins and other incredible life to which they are home," Bardem said.

Switching to Spanish, he said: "For that reason this oceans treaty is necessary, while governments, because of so much popular pressure, will see it as a major cause, since it assures the future of this planet, of our children, our nieces and nephews, and our grandchildren." EFE-EPA jfu/cd

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