African leaders are celebrating news of successful negotiations for a High Seas Treaty, the long-awaited United Nations agreement to protect global oceans and ecosystems through international cooperation.
The treaty, approved by delegates to the Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ), follows years of talks that began in 2004. The milestone achieved late Saturday in New York was welcomed by negotiators from the African Group, led by ambassador Michael Imran Kanu of Sierra Leone.
Citing Conference President Rena Lee, he said “the ship reached the shore” after tough negotiations that focused on the achievement of “a fair, equitable and universal treaty, with its core objectives of conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity.”
Among other things, the treaty will ensure that 30% of the world’s oceans will be placed into protected areas by 2030, along with additional funding for marine conservation and a legal framework for how marine life is used. UN Secretary General António Guterres said the treaty is “crucial for addressing the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.”
Among the negotiators for African nations were Marie-May Jeremie, CEO of the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust, and Jean Kenfack, minister of the environment for Cameroon. The effort also was supported by organizations like the High Seas Alliance, as well as youth leaders from the Kenyan Youth Biodiversity Network.
Image: Michael Imran Kanu