Germany joins the UK-led Global Ocean Alliance

Published: 18 May 2020 Author: Stefan Talmon

At the beginning of May 2020, Germany joined the Global Ocean Alliance for marine protection. The Alliance was initially created by the British Prime Minister at the United Nations General Assembly on 24 September 2019. The aim of the initiative is to ensure that at least 30% of the global ocean is assigned Marine Protected Area (MPA) status by 2030 through the 30by30 initiative. MPAs are geographically defined marine areas that are designated and managed to achieve specific conservation and sustainable use objectives. MPAs have been established by coastal States in their territorial sea and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Germany became the 14th State to join the Alliance. Commenting on Germany joining the Alliance, the Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety commented:

“The seas and oceans need our protection. We will achieve better results if at least 30 percent of the world’s marine areas are under protection. This would help reduce the adverse effects of human activities, preserve fish stocks and improve the oceans’ resilience against climate change. However, it is equally clear that, in addition to marine protected areas, we also need a sustainable use of all seas and oceans. Germany will now promote this together with its partners in the Global Ocean Alliance.”

The members of the Alliance will advocate for the “30-by-30” target in the negotiations on a new post-2020 global biodiversity framework under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. They also want MPAs to be established in areas beyond national jurisdiction and, for that reason, are pressing for their inclusion in the future Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ Agreement).

The Global Ocean Alliance is not an international organisation, but an informal coalition of States united by the common aim of marine conservation. Considering that less than 10% of the world’s ocean is currently designated as an MPA, the Alliance members are facing an uphill struggle to achieve their aim. At the moment, only two of the 20 countries with the largest EEZs are members of the Alliance. Germany – with numerous small MPAs in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, but an EEZ of less than 40,000 km2 (compared to an EEZ of the United States of 11.4M km2) – cannot contribute much in terms of MPA size. It can, however, lobby for the common aim.

Category: Law of the sea

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  • Stefan Talmon

    Stefan Talmon is Professor of Public Law, Public International Law and European Union Law, and Director at the Institute of Public International Law at the University of Bonn. He is also a Supernumerary Fellow of St. Anne’s College, Oxford, and practices as a Barrister from Twenty Essex, London. He is the editor of GPIL.

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