Protect Marine Biodiversity

Target: Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC)

Goal: Protect marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

The fifth session of a key United Nations summit is to resume in New York after the talks were suspended last year without a final agreement and marine conservation is at the top of the agenda. The Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction focuses on developing a legally binding instrument to safeguard conservation efforts in the ‘high seas,’ marine expanses outside national boundaries. The objective is to ensure the formulation of sustainability guidelines within the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The high seas comprise approximately two-thirds of the global marine area and face significant risks from several human influence factors. Issues include deep sea fishing, mining, and plastic pollution. Furthermore, the effect of climate change is on a rapid trajectory to cast a major impact on the seas. Climatic factors include rising sea temperatures and ocean acidification. There must be an even enforcement of rules in these choppy waters to settle the boundaries of human interaction.

Stakeholders at the inconclusive fifth conference have described the necessity of a homogenous treaty as a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity. However, despite five years of formal international negotiations and more than seventeen years on the agenda of the General Assembly, a final treaty remains to be drawn. The proposed draft of the treaty focuses on five principal areas. These include the conservation of marine genetic resources, setting up protected areas, and an assessment of environmental impacts. Other aspects include the uninhibited transfer of marine technology and the establishment of a funding mechanism along with dispute settlement functions.

It is high time that attendees at the global summit agree on a conclusive treaty to minimize human impact in the deep oceans. Add your signature to the petition below to call on the United Nations to arrive at a definitive agreement.


Dear Secretary Stiell,

Discussions on the inconclusive Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction are about to resume in New York. The formal draft of recommendations was passed by a Preparatory Committee in resolution 69/292 on 19th June 2015. The General Assembly passed a resolution (72/249) on 24th December 2017 to organize an Intergovernmental Conference to formulate a conclusive treaty based on the earlier recommendations. However, despite more than five years of formal negotiations, a final treaty is yet to materialize.

With the delay of every passing year, the climate change crisis continues to escalate at an alarming rate. The conservation and sustainability of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction are vital to safeguard the vision of a beautiful future.

Secretary Stiell, we urge you to assume a leading role in the current session and help guide the talks to a definitive agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Harvinder Chandigarh

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