Germany joined the pioneering Global Ocean Alliance at the beginning of May. This international initiative supports ambitious measures to protect our seas and oceans. It is seeking to protect at least 30 percent of the world’s seas and oceans by 2030.
Federal Environment Minister Schulze commented: "The seas and oceans need our protection. We will achieve better results if at least 30 percent of the world’s marine areas are under protection. This would help reduce the adverse effects of human activities, preserve fish stocks and improve the oceans’ resilience against climate change. However, it is equally clear that, in addition to marine protected areas, we also need a sustainable use of all seas and oceans. Germany will now promote this together with its partners in the Global Ocean Alliance."
The Global Ocean Alliance advocates a combination of protection and sustainable use of the world's seas and oceans in order to allow both the marine environment and a sustainable marine management to flourish. Germany thus belongs to those countries actively promoting the target of placing 30 percent of the world’s seas and oceans under marine protection measures by 2030. In addition to the founding nation United Kingdom, members of the Alliance are Belgium, Belize, Costa Rica, Finland, Gabon, Kenya, Nigeria, Palau, Portugal, Seychelles, Sweden and Vanuatu.
The Global Ocean Alliance will also raise its concern in the negotiations on a new post-2020 global biodiversity framework under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The Alliance also wants to include areas beyond national jurisdiction in the global target of 30 percent of marine areas to be protected, not just coastal waters. Therefore, the Alliance is pressing for an early agreement on a new UN legal instrument to govern the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity (Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction - BBNJ). This represents an historic and unique opportunity to achieve the first international legally binding environmental instrument for the protection of biological diversity in the world’s seas and oceans. Up to now, marine areas beyond national jurisdiction have received very little protection.
More information on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ)
In 2018, negotiations started on an international legally binding instrument on the protection of biodiversity of high seas areas under the title Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ); in Germany the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the lead ministry. The Federal Environment Ministry is intensively involved and advocates an effective legal instrument for the protection of the high seas. The negotiations on this legal instrument aim to establish, for example, rules for the designation of marine protected areas beyond national jurisdiction. The instrument will fall under the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS). To date, the protection of biodiversity in high seas regions is scarcely regulated.
The third round of negotiations took place from 19 to 30 September 2019 in New York, where the fourth round is also expected to be held either this year or next. Major issues of the BBNJ negotiations include:
- the consideration of important principles of environmental protection, such as the precautionary principle;
- effective requirements in relation to the designation, protection, management and monitoring of protected areas beyond national jurisdiction;
- high-level environmental standards for environmental impact assessments in areas beyond national jurisdiction.