school of fish in water polluted by plastic waste

The High Seas Treaty could save our oceans

But will the US join?

The planet scored a big win on March 4 when 190 countries reached a breakthrough agreement protecting the world’s oceans. Whether or not the US joins this urgent global effort hangs in the balance.

The UN High Seas Treaty is a planet-saving agreement that was almost two decades in the making. According to UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres it addresses the triple global threats of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution. Key to the agreement is a 30×30 target which will protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. It would do this by placing 30% into protected areas, with costs and resources shared equitably among the nations who sign on to the agreement.

The High Seas Treaty builds on The Law of the Sea, an earlier UN treaty finalized in 1982. It was ratified by 168 countries. The US was NOT one of them. This raises real concerns over our willingness to commit to The High Seas Treaty.

In December 2021 President Biden committed to  “the first-ever national conservation goal established by a President – a goal of conserving at least 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030.” This aligns with the 30×30 target of the High Seas Treaty. However, it does not guarantee that enough US Senators will vote to ratify it. Passing a treaty requires a YES vote from two thirds of the US Senate.

This critical vote should concern all of us. Washington Post asked a number of Senators to weigh in. They reported responses ranging from lack of awareness and commitment among some, to concern among others that the votes may not be there.

The treaty still needs to be formally passed by the UN. Then it’s up to each nation to ratify it. This will happen within the year. Now is the time for all of us to make our views and priorities very clear to our Senators.

If you believe that we owe future generations a living, thriving planet please take action. If you are stymied by Senators who think it’s ok to destroy species, pollute the oceans, and put profits before ecosystems please tell them it’s NOT OK. Contact your Senators and make it explicitly clear that you want them to vote to ratify the UN High Seas Treaty. 

Our planet is by far the most important legacy we will pass on to future generations.

Check out this United Nations app you can use to make personal choices to help the planet.

Leave a Comment