Environment

Chile becomes first country to ratify UN treaty for protection of high seas

Santiago, Jan 16, EFE.- Chile became the first country in the world on Tuesday to ratify the Global Ocean Treaty, a historic agreement for the conservation of marine biodiversity in international waters which seeks to protect 30 percent of the high seas by 2030.

The Chilean Senate unanimously approved the so-called agreement on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ), which was signed by United Nations member states in March last year after two decades of negotiations.

“The approval of this treaty confirms the oceanic vocation that our country has had,” said Chilean Foreign Minister Alberto van Klaveren after the vote, recalling that Chile offered the port city of Valparaíso, 110 kilometers from Santiago, as the headquarters of the secretariat of the agreement.

Environmental groups have insisted for years that this treaty is vital to saving the oceans, threatened by pollution, the climate crisis and new technologies that open the door to deep-sea mining and more intensive fishing.

International waters, shared by all countries, account for two thirds of the total oceans and seas and until now have been managed under a series of agreements and international organizations without clear jurisdiction or much coordination and with inadequate standards for their protection.

“It is one of the most important environmental treaties of recent decades and in which, throughout its entire process, the countries of our region and particularly Chile, played a key role in leading its debate,” said Estefanía González, deputy director of Greenpeace Chile campaigns.

The treaty, also called the High Seas Treaty and for which negotiations began in 2004, also ensures that the environmental impact of activities in international waters is taken into account and facilitates cooperation between countries in marine technology.

In addition, it creates a framework for sharing the benefits of the sea, especially everything related to marine genetic resources – species that can provide patentable genes in the future, for example for use in medicine.

For the treaty to enter into force, it must be ratified by at least 60 countries, which is expected to be achieved before the United Nations Ocean Conference, which will be held in France in June 2025.

“It is historic that Chile is the first to take this step – it is a very important and urgent signal. Without a treaty in force, we cannot advance in the protection actions that the planet needs. We hope that our ratification is an invitation for the rest of States to join soon,” added the Greenpeace spokesperson. EFE

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