February 15, 2022 - 8:20 am

 An International Summit On The Ocean

As part of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union and at the initiative of the President of the Republic, an international summit on the oceans took place in Brest, from 9 to 11 February 2022. The first One Ocean Summit (OOS), aims to mobilise “unprecedented international political engagement” for a wide range of pressing maritime issues, seeks to step up the international community’s ambition on maritime issues and put into practice our shared responsibility for the oceans.

On 9 and 10 February, more than thirty events, workshops, forums, events, meetings and initiatives feature on the programme. Their aim is to mobilize the “international maritime community”. They cover a wide variety of topics to address all aspects of the oceans and offer solutions in addition to discussing existing observations. On the morning of 11 February, President Emmanuel Macron brings together Heads of State and Government, leaders of multilateral institutions, business leaders and civil society representatives to make ambitious commitments. Multiple important initiatives are launched at the event for the protection of marine ecosystems and sustainable fishing, the fight against pollution, especially plastics, the response to the effects of climate change and to promote better governance of the oceans.

A high ambition coalition on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) has been launched at the One Ocean Summit in Brest, on 11th of February 2022. The coalition gathers parties which are committed, at the highest political level, to achieve an ambitious outcome of the ongoing negotiations on a Treaty of the High Seas (“the implementing agreement on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction”), under the auspices of the United Nations.

The EU's long-standing zero-tolerance towards illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is another cornerstone of the EU's ambitious policy for sustainable management of marine resources. IUU is a grave threat to the world's fish stocks, pushing some to the brink of collapse. Since 2010, the EU has therefore implemented a set of measures to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU. Under these rules, the EU works with countries worldwide to promote the fight against IUU and blocks such products from entering the EU market. The EU also relies on the support of the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) to ensure the compliance of its own fleet through laws applicable to the Member States' control authorities. The EU is not only leading by example, but also provides financial support through regional programmes that promote sustainable fisheries.

Oceans cover more than 70% of our planet’s surface, yet they are all too often pushed to the sidelines of international meetings on the climate and biodiversity. They regulate environmental balances and especially the climate, provide a wealth of varied resources, are an important enabler of trade, and are an essential link between countries and human communities. Today, they are threatened by the pressure caused by the effects of climate change, pollution – particularly that caused by plastic – and the overexploitation of marine resources.

Renew Europe, which was represented at a high level at the One Ocean Summit this week in Brest, fully associates itself with the Parliamentary Declaration of this international conference organised by the French Presidency of the Council of the EU. It is indeed high time for the international community to adopt a legally binding instrument allowing the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity. This is the only way to preserve marine ecosystems and foster resilience to climate change. Renew Europe welcomes the pioneering role of the European Union in this struggle for the future of the ocean in the field of the fight against plastic pollution. European legislation can be the basis of a binding international legal framework to limit plastic pollution. Decision-makers at the summit have a real political opportunity to raise the importance of the ocean’s health in international policymaking. “The time is no longer for words and observations; the solutions exist, and all that is missing is the political will to put them in place.”