The UN Biodiversity Conference in Montréal is negotiating ambitious targets for protection, restoration and nature-positive use of the oceans.
Marine protection and nature-friendly use of the oceans are also a priority at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Montréal, Canada. Over 70 percent of our planet is covered by ocean. The oceans are home to countless species and function as a climate regulator and an important foundation of the food chain. Together with the EU and other leading countries in marine protection, the Blue Leaders and the Global Ocean Alliance, Germany is advocating in the ongoing negotiations for the adoption of ambitious global protection and restoration targets for the oceans. One aim of the future global biodiversity framework is to establish a target of placing at least 30 percent of global land and sea areas under protection by 2030.
Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke commented: "We must now adopt concrete agreements on the protection and restoration of natural marine habitats at CBD COP 15 in Montréal. Only an intact ocean allows us to protect the many animal and plant species as well as the climate, thus safeguarding the foundations of all our lives. We need a global roadmap for setting up marine protected areas, both in our coastal waters and on the high seas. Parts of these areas must be under especially strict protection. This is the only way for nature to truly recover."
The German government is prioritising the urgent need for action on national and international marine protection, also as part of an overarching marine protection initiative. A coherent and binding marine strategy is to be a key element. It will define high-level guidelines and concrete key measures for marine protection at national and international level. Structurally, the German government has sent a clear message that it wants to give higher priority to marine protection by setting up a new Directorate for the Protection of the Marine Environment at the Federal Environment Ministry and appointing its first Federal Government Commissioner for the Ocean. Germany is also working in multiple international negotiation processes that have established key trajectories for global marine protection. Outside of the UN Biodiversity Conference, these include, in particular, negotiations on a legally binding agreement for protecting marine areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), on a global agreement against plastic waste, especially in the oceans, and on the use of deep-sea mineral resources under the International Seabed Authority.
Under German Presidency, the G7 countries recently adopted an Ocean Deal containing far-reaching agreements for the protection and nature-friendly use of the oceans. The progress report on the Ocean Deal, which was published at the margins of CBD COP 15 at the end of Germany’s G7 Presidency, describes the joint activities of the G7 countries in international marine protection, for example on nature-based solutions, during the last half of the year.
Beyond the goal of protecting 30 percent of land and sea areas by 2030, other key decisions for the oceans are on the agenda at the UN Biodiversity Conference. These include expected decisions on nature-friendly use of marine biodiversity to respond to the increasing pressure on the oceans due to human activities. Positions on handling potential deep-sea mining are also expected. Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke will present the German government’s position today at an event on protection of the deep sea. In the competent International Seabed Authority, Germany will not support any deep-sea mining projects until further notice or until there has been sufficient research on the deep sea. In addition, the German government is calling on other countries to place a precautionary pause on deep-sea mining.
A coalition of approx. 50 ambitious countries is also taking the opportunity of the UN Biodiversity Conference to make progress on combating plastic waste in the oceans. Only a few weeks ago, negotiations began on a global agreement to combat plastic waste. Germany played a considerable role in bringing this about. It is also expected that CBD COP 15, which is now in the homestretch, will designate 17 areas in the North-East Atlantic as biodiversity hotspots, known as Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs). To achieve this, Germany worked together with partners from the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic. Sebastian Unger, Federal Government Commissioner for the Ocean, who is also attending the UN Biodiversity Conference, was very pleased to see much increased attention and importance for marine protection at international level. Commissioner Unger remarked: "The success of CBD COP 15 will have to be measured against how well the targets can be implemented, for example the 30 percent protection target for land and sea areas that we are pushing for. It must also be clear that marine areas outside of protected areas can only be used in harmony with nature."