I have the honour to speak on behalf of the EU and its Member States.
Ocean health and productivity need to be restored and maintained, so that oceans and their ecosystem services can be available to current and future generations and support sustainable development.
The EU is strongly committed to achieving the 2030 Agenda. For this purpose, it has adopted its Green Deal and supporting strategies, which aim to make Europe climate neutral in 2050 and to protect biodiversity. It has also committed to increasing research and innovation into oceans’ issues by making ‘Healthy Oceans, Seas, Coastal and Inland Waters’ one of the five missions of Horizon Europe.
In addition, our rules covering environmental protection and the sustainable use of the marine environment and its resources, as well as our International Ocean Governance Agenda aim to ensure that oceans are clean, healthy, productive, resilient, and better understood.
Our discussion today is pertinent when many countries are developing ocean-based economies, including as part of their recovery from the socio- economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We need to ensure that this recovery is transformative, does not add further pressure on the oceans, protects and restores their climate mitigating functions, and tackles pollution, including from land-based sources.
This will provide synergistic benefits: for example, nature-based solutions such as marine protected areas will improve ocean resilience to climate change and benefit biodiversity conservation and fisheries objectives. They will also provide greater economic benefits from fisheries and tourism and contribute to achieving sustainable development objectives.
This is why the EU and its Member States are fully behind the launch of negotiations for a global agreement on plastics at the upcoming UN Environment Assembly, the rapid finalisation of the BBNJ Agreement for areas beyond national jurisdiction and the 30X30 initiative. As an example of the kind of action that needs is required, we fully support the urgent establishment of such areas in the Southern Ocean.
Finally, any necessary action needs to respect the existing legal framework for the oceans: the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.