Green Party applauds the adoption of the new UN treaty on ocean biodiversity

The Green Party warmly welcomes the successful conclusion, at the United Nations, of negotiations for a global treaty on ocean biodiversity. Fifteen years in the making, the resulting agreement will allow the international community to protect and manage much more effectively the Biodiversity of ocean areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ).

"The new treaty will provide highly needed mechanisms to regulate and protect the high seas -- in huge areas that are still largely left for each nation to use, and abuse, as they see fit, » said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada. "Humanity must take energetic action to protect, understand and manage sustainably the deep ocean. This treaty provides the tools to do this. It is high time that the world imposes better control on human activities on the high seas."

Areas beyond national jurisdiction include the high seas and seabeds underneath. They represent some 60% of the world's oceans, an area is close to half the total surface of the planet. Yet, much of it remains largely unknown to us. The Green Party calls in the strongest terms to refrain from pursuing destructive practices in those areas, in ignorance of their impact on the biodiversity and environment of oceanic areas beyond national jurisdiction. 

The treaty contains provisions for establishing protected areas and requiring environmental impact assessments for activities conducted on the high seas. It also provides for enhanced cooperation between states for the management and sustainable use of ocean resources, and for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from marine genetic resources. 

This treaty not only fills a major gap long left open under the international law of the sea but also represents a significant new tool to implement the commitments just agreed under the Biodiversity Convention, at COP15 in Montreal last December. 

Much has yet to happen before we can reap the benefits of this new treaty. While the text of the Agreement is now agreed in principle, it has yet to be formally adopted by the UN, and obtain the required number of States' ratifications to enter into force. Then, State Parties will have to demonstrate firm resolve in using the mechanisms of the treaty to their full effect. 

"Canada can and must play a leadership role in pressing forward with those tasks", said Jonathan Pedneault, deputy leader of the Green Party of Canada. "This begins with the government of Canada ensuring immediate ratification of the treaty and showing strong international leadership in transforming its text into concrete actions."

The Green Party looks forward to the Liberal government’s commitment to ratify the BBNJ treaty at the earliest, and to hear what actions the government will take to prompt its rapid entry into force and effective implementation at the international level.


For more information or to arrange an interview : 

Fabrice Lachance Nové

Press secretary