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The time has finally come: After almost two decades of negotiations, the United Nations has adopted an agreement to protect the high seas. The goal is to protect 30% of the oceans by 2030.

The UN has achieved a historic success in which its member states have agreed in a global marine conservation treaty to a protected zone of 30% of the high seas by 2030. This '30x30 target' paves the way for the creation of fully or highly protected areas on the high seas. However, the text still has shortcomings, critics say, and governments must ensure that the treaty is put into practice in an effective and equitable manner for it to be considered a truly ambitious treaty. "It's a historic day for marine conservation and a sign that in a divided world, the protection of people and nature can triumph over geopolitics," says Iris Menn, marine expert and executive director of Greenpeace Switzerland. She continues, "We can now finally move from talk to real change on the seas. The clock is ticking to reach the 30×30 goal. We only have a few years left and there is no time to lose."

Countries still need to formally adopt and ratify the treaty

Now the hard work of ratifying the treaty and protecting the oceans begins. Countries must formally adopt the treaty and ratify it as soon as possible to bring it into force. This also applies to Switzerland. Then the marine protected areas must be established. The federal government must work with other countries to establish marine areas that are protected from all industrial activity and human interference.

Deep sea must also be protected

Switzerland must also urgently commit to protecting the deep sea, whose destruction is imminent, warns Iris Menn. This is because governments and companies, including Swiss firms, are preparing to extract mineral resources from the deep sea, she said. "For 2023 to be a truly great year for marine conservation, everything must be done to stop it. Many countries and international companies have already committed to a moratorium on deep-sea mining. The federal government must also commit to protecting the seabed," Menn demands.