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Round 3 of UN High Seas Treaty negotiations set to resume in March

The 3rd Session of the UN Preparatory Committee will meet in New York from 27th March – 7th April, to carry on hammering out the elements of a new legally binding UN agreement to protect high seas biodiversity. Participants have been discussing the scope of the treaty and how to deal with issues such as establishing marine protected areas (MPAs) and fully protected reserves; access and benefit sharing of marine genetic resources; environmental impact assessments; and technology transfer. At the last meeting in September, a number of thornier issues were identified, and the hope is for convergence on issues such as which principles should apply to marine genetic resources (i.e. common heritage of mankind or freedom of the seas, or both), as well as appropriate types of MPAs and how best to establish a framework to create high seas marine sanctuaries.

So, we do know that negotiations about negotiations don’t float most people’s boats, but The Navigator cannot underscore enough just how important it is to secure a strong agreement if we are to effectively conserve and protect biodiversity in two-thirds of the world’s Ocean. Given all the news over the past few weeks about Ocean warming and reduced sea ice cover at both Poles, this really is the “Paris Agreement for the Ocean”. Plus, without this new agreement, which represents such a large area of planetary real estate, the UN’s Ocean SDG will never be achieved.

It is crucial for governments to work through their differences in this critical “pre-negotiation” phase and come to an agreement that will deliver a meaningful and effective treaty. It will be the job of the new chair of the process – Ambassador Carlos Duarte – to navigate these tricky waters. In the meantime, in preparation for the meeting decision-makers should check out these 5 research papers to help inform their positions.

There will be another meeting in July this year, when the proposed treaty elements will hopefully be signed, sealed and delivered to the UN General Assembly, so that it can convene a formal treaty-negotiating conference in 2018, and a strong, final, treaty before 2020.

March for Science and People’s Climate March in April

International Earth Day is on the 22nd April, and this year’s campaign is about environmental and climate literacy. The aim is “to build a global citizenry fluent in the concepts of climate change and aware of its unprecedented threat to our planet.” It is of course no coincidence that a March for Science is being organised on the same day in Washington, DC, home to President Trump, who continues to dodge climate science and is dismantling the US climate legacy at reckless speed – posing a huge threat to the future of our planet. There will be a rally and teach-in on the National Mall in DC, including speeches and training with scientists and civic organizers, musical performances, and a march through Washington's streets. The crowd will gather at 8:00am, and the teach-in will begin at 10:00am.

One week later, on the 29th April, people will take to the streets again in DC for the People’s Climate March to march for jobs, justice and the climate. This will be a moment for a range of progressive social change movements to come together to push back on the dangerous Trump administration’s climate change-denying agenda and to stress the need for “a clean, safe world where the rights of all people are protected and expanded”.

 Since Trump’s inauguration, there has been a huge surge of political energy, with people taking to the streets in great numbers to protest for their rights and those of others that are suddenly under threat. These actions have been truly inspirational and give hope and courage that change is possible. Peaceful protests and other non-violent direct action make a difference, and it is an excellent way to celebrate community and resistance. It is also much more energising than getting angry and shouting at the TV!

Click here for a forward-looking calendar