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HomeTopicsEnvironment and WildlifeCosta Rica Declares Peace with the Ocean in Groundbreaking Initiative

Costa Rica Declares Peace with the Ocean in Groundbreaking Initiative

The forum on ocean protection “Immersed in Change,” held in Costa Rica as a prelude to a crucial UN meeting in France in 2025, will culminate this Saturday with a “declaration of peace for the ocean,” organizers reported.

After two intensive days of debate, calls to action, presentations of successful initiatives, and shared knowledge in San José, delegations from 50 participating countries called for measures to improve the deteriorating health of the oceans.

“We are committed to expanding transformative ocean actions to support nature-positive economies based on the best available science and scientific information, traditional knowledge, and innovation,” stipulates the document seen by AFP.

This initiative from Costa Rica, which is non-binding, will serve as a framework text to continue discussions and commitments at the III United Nations Ocean Conference (UNOC), scheduled for June 2025 in Nice, co-organized by France and the Central American country.

“The ocean can no longer endure our mistreatment and indifference. That’s why, in Costa Rica, we have decided that it is time to declare peace with it,” said Costa Rican Foreign Minister Arnoldo André during the event.

The UN Assistant Secretary-General for Social Affairs, Li Junhua, agreed with the Costa Rican minister on the need to act without delay: “Protecting the ocean and the sustainable use of marine resources is not an option but an imperative.”

The forum addressed topics such as governance, global warming, fishing, and marine biodiversity to aid decision-making in France.

Ratifying Agreements

One of the main calls was for the ratification of the High Seas Protection Treaty signed in 2023 by over 70 countries, a binding agreement to protect the ocean beyond the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of states, about 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the coast.

Currently, only about 1% of the high seas are under conservation measures, and the key tool of the pact is the creation of marine protected areas in these waters.

The final declaration also points to the “effective implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework for the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of biodiversity and resource mobilization.”

This treaty was adopted in 2023 following the COP15 environmental conference held in Montreal (Canada) in 2022 and aims to safeguard and sustainably use biodiversity to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed upon in the Paris Agreement in 2015, which must be achieved by 2030.

Ocean Health

“There is no healthy planet without a healthy ocean, and the current health of the oceans is deteriorating,” warned the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, Peter Thomson, during the forum.

An idea reiterated in the declaration of peace for the ocean, where authorities committed to contributing “to the global goal of protecting or conserving at least 30% of marine and coastal areas by 2030.”

“If we want to arrive in France with the work done, this weekend in Costa Rica is where we must move from words to action,” marine biologist Pilar Marcos, head of Oceans at Greenpeace International, told AFP.

Policy and Science

Plastic pollution, water contamination, unsustainable fishing, ocean acidification, global warming, and deep-sea mining are currently the main concerns of scientists.

Therefore, to improve decision-making, science and policy must converge in the task of ocean recovery, according to experts.

Charlina Vitcheva, Director of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries at the European Commission, told AFP that “it is absolutely essential” to rely on science to develop “robust policies” that align with the reality of the ocean situation.

The final declaration in Costa Rica contemplates “supporting and promoting efforts to strengthen the interface between ocean sciences and policies.”

Aquaculture and Fishing

During the “Immersed in Change” forum, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released a global report revealing that for the first time, aquaculture production surpassed capture fishing.

“Aquatic foods play a fundamental role” in the fight against hunger and poverty in the world, Manuel Barange, director of the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Division, told AFP.

He added that in 10 or 20 years, “we will eat even more fish, but most of that fish will come from aquaculture, not fishing.”

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