A total of €4 billion will be allocated to combat plastic pollution, according to the so-called “Brest Commitments” adopted at the end of the One Ocean Summit Friday (11 February), where they also agreed to create a global coalition preserve high seas biodiversity. EURACTIV France reports.
For three days, from 9-11 February in the city of Brest, experts, activists and politicians from 42 countries – including 20 heads of state, including non-European ones – joined forums and workshops to discuss a range of issues that impact ocean life.
Fighting plastic waste at sea received the most significant financial commitment of €4 billion by 2025 from the French, German and Spanish national banks, together with the European Investment Bank (EIB) to develop the “Clean Oceans Initiative”.
Preserving the high seas, beyond 200 nautical miles from national coasts and thus not under any state jurisdiction, is one of today’s most significant challenges participants acknowledged.
In this regard, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the launch of a “global coalition” – which includes 27 EU countries and 16 non-EU countries – to conclude the treaty on the sustainable use of the high seas and the protection of its biodiversity.
“We must give impetus to concluding it this year”, she said.
Fourteen countries also announced measures to strengthen the fight against illegal fishing, such as improving controls in landing ports and mobilising national navies to monitor illegal fishing.
As the ocean is essential in the fight against climate change, which is primarily caused by human activity, the One Ocean Summit was an opportunity to obtain commitments from various economic players.
For instance, 22 European shipowners agreed to take concrete measures in several areas affecting the underwater ecosystem, contained in the Green Marine Europe label, which concern, among other things, greenhouse gas emissions, underwater noise and oily discharges.
Another 35 major players, including 18 European ports, have also committed to “accelerate the supply of electricity to ships in port” to reduce pollution in port cities.
More countries also joined the coalition that aims to “protect 30% of the world’s land and sea by 2030”, which was created at the One Planet Summit of January 2021, meaning there are now 84 states that have joined this alliance.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who was in Brest for the closing day of the event, announced that the national nature reserve of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF) would be extended to the Crozet and Kerguelen archipelagos and the islands of Saint-Paul and Amsterdam, located in the Indian Ocean. This territory will thus become the second largest marine protected area in the world.
The work initiated by this unprecedented summit should enable progress to be made on the “high seas management framework”, particularly at a meeting in New York in March, to adopt the agreement before the end of the year.
Meanwhile, negotiations on a binding international treaty to combat plastic pollution will occur in Nairobi at the end of February.
[Edited by Alice Taylor]