NEW YORK (March 6, 2023) — Countries agreed on a historic treaty to place the world on a path to protect 30% of the high seas by 2030, and to safeguard and restore the ocean’s biodiversity. The agreement was reached by 193 countries at the UN headquarters in New York on March 4. It follows almost 20 years of negotiations to reach a legally binding treaty to protect the ocean beyond national boundaries, a vast area that comprises more than two thirds of the ocean.  

Following is a statement from Kristian Teleki, Global Director for the Ocean Program, World Resources Institute:

“The ocean is now significantly better protected thanks to this historic deal to safeguard areas beyond national jurisdictions. The High Seas Treaty will ensure protection of 30 percent of international waters by 2030 to preserve and restore marine biodiversity. This will bridge a major gap in efforts to protect our ocean, which is critical to addressing climate change, biodiversity loss and food insecurity.

Until now, there has never been an overarching treaty to protect marine biodiversity in the high seas, leaving them vulnerable to threats such as climate change, overfishing and pollution. The new agreement will now help control the exploitation of marine resources in the high seas and will be crucial for achieving countries’ UN biodiversity conference commitment to protect 30 percent of the world’s seas and land. It will also help address systemic inequities by ensuring that newly discovered ocean resources and any profits derived from them will be equitably distributed between developed and developing countries.   

While this is a historic win, countries must now urgently begin putting these protections in place to ensure the ocean can continue to play a vital role in fighting climate change and supporting human life.”