Discussions that were meant to lead to a UN Ocean Treaty that would protect biodiversity in international waters have ended without agreement.
The fifth round of discussions, which began two weeks ago, were intended to establish a UN Ocean Treaty that would set rules for protecting biodiversity in two-thirds of the world’s oceanic areas that lie outside territorial waters.
UN members failed to agree on how to share benefits from marine life, establish protected areas, or to prevent human activity with life in international waters.
Environmental campaigners, who noted that discussions had been continuing on and off for 15 years, expressed disappointment and blamed wealthy countries, including the US, of being too slow to compromise. Among the issues holding up the treaty is agreement on a process for creating protected areas as well as environmental impact assessments.
Laura Meller of Greenpeace’s Protect the Oceans campaign, explained, “Time has run out. Further delay means ocean destruction. We are sad and disappointed. While countries continue to talk, the oceans and all those who rely on them will suffer.”
Greenpeace had already warned that treaty talks were on the brink of failure because of the greed of countries in the High Ambition Coalition and others such as the US and Canada. At issue, the group said, was prioritizing hypothetical future profits from Marine Genetics Resources over protecting the oceans.
Also, Russia had blocked negotiations, refusing to engage in the treaty process and in attempts at compromise as a diplomatic lever involved with its war in Ukraine.