Words are powerful, especially when they speak the truth and come straight from the heart. That’s why Oscar-winning actor and writer Emma Thompson’s plea to UN delegates to do what is right for the oceans moved so many of us. She reminded international representatives meeting in New York that, while some are sitting in important negotiations, the oceans and the people that depend on them most are under severe threat.
Emma spoke from the Arctic, where she joined the Greenpeace ship, Arctic Sunrise and the Inuit community of Clyde River in their efforts against oil and gas prospecting in the region. She spoke of the crisis facing our planet and she spoke for all of us when she called upon governments to please, act now!
At the UN, Emma’s video message was met by loud applause, with many delegates expressing their deep appreciation for the reminder of what is really at stake out there on the great blue sea.
A new UN ocean treaty could lead to the creation of networks of ocean sanctuaries across the world. The survival of our oceans depends on it. Science tells us, these ‘no-take’ areas are desperately needed to stop the ocean crisis.
Momentum is growing – this week, a major meeting of governments and NGOs in Hawaii committed to safeguard 30% of the world’s oceans. Legally binding protection is what’s needed. That’s what the UN ocean treaty negotiators are tasked to deliver.
Most countries agree that the UN ocean treaty should include legal steps to create sanctuaries on the high seas. Costa Rica and Monaco, for example, suggested a good way forward. These steps, which include transparency and adopting scientific criteria were welcomed by South Africa as well as the European Union.
Greenpeace also presented a ten step approach to achieve high seas ocean sanctuaries. What is still being discussed is the level of protection for these sanctuaries, how they should be managed and by whom.
Emma Thompson had the last word in the negotiations this time which is pretty amazing. Her message has so far reached 3.5 million people! I would like to thank all of you out there, who shared the plea for ocean protection and helped make the UN listen.
There are only two more meetings to go before governments must report back to the UN General Assembly. Hopefully with a treaty text that most can agree on. To succeed, all self-serving political agendas need to be put aside in favour of protecting our blue planet. Let’s continue fighting side by side and make decisions, that, as Emma Thompson rightly put it, our children and our children’s children will thank us for.
Believe in ocean protection? Help protect one of the world’s most pristine oceans from oil drilling and overfishing, by signing up here.
Sofia Tsenikli is a Senior Oceans Policy Advisor at Greenpeace International and was at the recent UN ocean treaty meeting in New York.