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For Immediate Release

Contact

Tanya Brooks, Greenpeace USA Senior Communications Specialist, P: 703-342-9226, E: tbrooks@greenpeace.org 

James Hanson, Global Media Lead, P: / +44 7801 212 994,  james.hanson@greenpeace.org

Press Release

Greenpeace USA Calls for Biden Administration Leadership as the Final Round of Global Ocean Treaty Negotiations Stall

WASHINGTON -

Hundreds march for the oceans in New York; photos and videos will be available here.

Today, Greenpeace USA sent a letter to the Biden Administration asking them to send high-level representation, such as Special Envoy John Kerry or a Cabinet Member, to the stalled negotiations for a Global Ocean Treaty happening at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Hundreds marched in the streets of New York with Greenpeace USA to demand that world leaders protect the oceans we all depend on. 

Shaama Sandooyea, an activist from Mauritius who spoke at the rally, said: “In Mauritius, we’re already feeling the impacts of the ocean crisis. We need action now, but negotiations are moving at a glacial pace. Delegates just aren’t recognizing the urgency of the situation. Instead of trying to find common ground on the more difficult issues, they are wasting valuable hours debating minor points that were put to bed decades ago. They’re failing me and my community.”

The letter from Greenpeace USA states: “There is a desperate need for senior political figures to weigh in and accelerate this process, lifting proceedings out of purely technical, circular conversations and bringing matters to a close.”

Civil society and several member states, including France, have voiced concern that instead of treating the negotiations with the urgency required to adopt a strong Global Ocean Treaty this August, delegates have instead reopened old debates on long-settled issues such as the conservation purpose of marine protected areas (MPAs). Delay has also occurred as some countries of the global North, including the United States, have refused to make concessions to meet the needs of the Global South on key issues relating to equity.  

Arlo Hemphill, the Senior Oceans Campaigner with Greenpeace USA who is attending the meeting, said: “If we don’t get a Treaty in 2022, it will be practically impossible to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. Scientists say this is the absolute minimum needed to protect the oceans. But instead of acting with the necessary urgency, delegates are behaving like we have another decade for them to keep talking about this. We don’t. Time is running out for our oceans. We need a strong Treaty to be finalized at these negotiations. Governments should heighten their ambition to conclude this negotiation by sending minister-level officials to the second week of talks to get us over the finish line to secure a strong Treaty.”

For these negotiations to be considered a success, the Treaty must set as a primary objective the establishment of a global network of ocean sanctuaries (or MPAs). Supporters of the treaty hope that it will provide a first-ever legal framework for the protection of biodiversity in international waters, including the creation of ocean sanctuaries, environmental rules, and the application of Environmental Impact Assessments preceding any human activities on the waters that make up nearly half of the planet.

Similar letters have been sent by other Greenpeace offices to their respective governments, urging them to send high-ranking ministers to the second week of talks.

At the march on Thursday, Shaama Saandooyea and other representativess from Nigeria, Mexico, Mauritius, and Thailand gave powerful speeches to the marchers, sharing their perspectives on the ocean crisis, which is already harming their communities, and calling for more urgency to ensure a strong Treaty is finalized in 2022. The lack of high-level ministerial engagement in negotiations has slowed down progress in the talks, with only one minister attending talks so far, from France.

A lack of political prioritization remains the key sticking point responsible for the delay, and delegates are not acting as though they have a mandate to conclude proceedings in the next two weeks. 

Anta Diouf, a fish processor from Senegal, said: “I am sad that I cannot participate in the Global Ocean Treaty negotiations because my visa was not processed quickly enough. I would have liked to participate in this meeting to tell governments of the need to protect the jobs of the women fish processors and ask for better protection of the oceans, and to share our desire to support the project of protecting 30% of the oceans of the world.”

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Greenpeace is a global, independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

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