Inspiration: How people power helped protect our oceans with the Global Ocean Treaty

By Gillian Ramirez, Alliance Intern from UC San Diego

The UN’s Global Ocean Treaty has finally been agreed upon by 190+ countries after 20 years of hard work. As Greenpeace points out, it organized 5,540,513 people globally to sign a petition protecting our oceans. The Treaty upholds the 30×30 Pledge protecting 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030 and establishing protected ocean sanctuaries in international waters. The Treaty “help[s] combat climate change by locking away carbon, and provide[s] food security and livelihoods to more than 3 billion people, the vast majority of whom are in the Global South.”

Many driving forces helped pass the Treaty: Civil society, organizations, and individuals who have been advocating for this. As the Greenpeace emphasizes, “campaigning to save life on our planet can sometimes feel like a daunting task, and it’s easy to become disheartened.” We need to celebrate this win and know that there is power in numbers. Small island states played a critical role, along with the UN’s Group 77, EU, US, UK and China.  

 Just 1.2% of [Earth’s high seas] are currently environmentally protected, exposing the vast array of marine species that teem beneath the surface — from tiny plankton to giant whales — to threats such as pollution, overfishing, shipping and deep-sea mining,” according to the Washington Post.

It also points out that “The new agreement is first of its kind to protect oceans since 1982, when the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea was adopted, establishing a single set of rules that governed the world’s oceans and their resources.”

Finally, the Post emphasizes that the Treaty “establishes frameworks for nations to coordinate on environmental impact assessments and to share marine genetic resources — scientific knowledge about deep-sea organisms found in remote waters that could be of value to humankind.” 

This victory is an important reminder that our voices matter and when we speak up and join together we can protect the world. And thank you to those people who’ve dedicated 20 years of their lives to making this a reality. You made the seemingly impossible possible.

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