UK Government Calls for Protecting 30 Percent of World’s Oceans
UN Photo/Martine Perret
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The UK Environment Minister will call on other countries to support increased coastal and marine ocean protection during the 73rd session of the UNGA’s high-level General Debate.

The current CBD Aichi Target and SDG target 14.5 aim to protect at least 10 percent of coastal and marine areas by 2020.

The UK is advocating for increasing this target to 30 percent by 2030.

25 September 2018: The Government of the UK has called for protecting 30 percent of the world’s oceans by 2030. UK Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey urged other countries to designate 30 percent of the world’s oceans as marine protected areas (MPAs) to address challenges posed by climate change, plastic pollution and overfishing.

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Aichi Target 11 and SDG target 14.5 aim to protect at least 10 percent of coastal and marine areas by 2020. The UK is advocating for increasing this target to 30 percent by 2030. Currently, only seven percent of oceans are formally protected. Further, according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP, or UN Environment), more effective governance and management of these protected areas is critical to ensure that these MPAs are not “paper parks.”

Coffey is expected to encourage other countries to support increased coastal and marine ocean protection during the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 73) high-level General Debate. The Government of the UK has also announced it will encourage adoption of the 30 percent target at the 14th meeting of the CBD Conference of the Parties in November 2018.

Marine protection should be the rule, not the exception.

In a statement in New York, US, UK Environment Secretary, Michael Grove, also emphasized the importance of global action to protect the world’s oceans. He said the UK has already protected marine habitats,“but we must go further.” He called for working together to ensure the health of the world’s oceans for future generations. The UK has classified more than 200,000 square miles of coastal waters as MPAs and has pledged to protect four million square kilometres across its overseas territories by 2020.

UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim welcomed the UK’s call to enhance global marine protection. He stressed that “marine protection should be the rule, not the exception.” UNEP Patron of Oceans, Lewis Pugh, described the Government of the UK’s action as a “landmark decision” for ocean conservation. He stressed, however, the importance of focusing “not only on the number but the nature of the protection,” explaining that fully protected MPAs are necessary for the ocean to recover. If other countries join the UK and follow through on their commitment, he said, such a decision will be “the most important moment for ocean conservation in history.” [UNEP Press Release] [CBD Aichi Targets] [Lewis Pugh Website on Ocean Protection Press Release] [Climate Action Press Release]


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