The Federal Government signed an international agreement to protect the world’s oceans at the UN General Assembly in New York. The agreement is “a glimmer of hope for the seas of this world, a glimmer of hope for the people of this world, but also a glimmer of hope for the United Nations,” said Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock yesterday during a joint appearance with Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (both Greens) on the sidelines the UN General Assembly in New York. Until now, the high seas were de facto a lawless area. “That’s changing now.”

Lemke spoke of a “historic day for ocean protection.” It is good that the agreement has been signed by around 80 states – 60 states are necessary for ratification. Once these states have deposited their instruments of ratification, the agreement can enter into force 120 days later. “We in Germany will now do everything we can to make ratification as quick as possible,” said Lemke. Since all democratic parties in the Bundestag support the relevant law, she expects this to happen “very quickly and with consensus”.

After years of negotiations, the United Nations passed an agreement to protect the world’s oceans in June. Among other things, the pact creates the basis for the designation of large protected areas on the high seas. Procedures are also established to examine economic projects, expeditions and other activities in the oceans for their environmental compatibility. Two thirds of the oceans belong to the high seas and have thus far been largely a legal vacuum. The federal cabinet approved the signing in mid-September.