The United Nations (UN) has just adopted the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction Treaty (BBNJ), is a legally binding international agreement that will help govern the high seas, per CBS News. The legal document was approved by all 193 UN members, and it aims to protect the environment as well as mitigate disputes over natural resources.
Up until now, there has never been such a treaty that would govern the high seas. The new development intends to be a turning point in the way conservation efforts around the planet are approached. These include deep-sea mining, exploration, oil exploration and overfishing, per the report.
Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, praised the new treaty, saying: “You have delivered. And you have done so at a critical time.”
Peter Thomson, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Oceans, explained: "To prevent a cascading of species extinctions, last year we universally agreed to the Global Biodiversity Framework's target of protecting 30% of the planet's land and sea by 2030. To reach that target, we'll have to establish Marine Protected Areas in the High Seas, and happily the BBNJ Treaty will give us the legal means to do that."
The only other treaty that has come close to this one was the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which was introduced 30 years ago, per CBS. However, it only regulated waters that were within territories owned by the UN, which left more than half of the planet unregulated and supervised. This was especially important when it came to biodiversity.
The Conservation International organization said: "Roughly two thirds of the Earth's oceans lie beyond national boundaries in an area known as the 'high seas' — yet only about 1% of that largely unexplored expanse has been protected. This year, nearly 200 nations finally agreed on the first treaty to protect the high seas.”
Monica Medina, the Assistant Secretary of the US Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, commented: “The high seas are among the last truly wild places on earth.”
"It is often said that the ocean is too big to fail. That is simply not true.”
"The ocean is more fragile than most people understand. It is also more essential. It provides the oxygen we breathe and food for tens of millions of people."