NEW YORK—In a festive and jubilant ceremony, the United Nations celebrated the signing of a historic global pact to protect the biodiversity of the high seas by dumping hundreds of champagne bottles into the ocean. “This is a momentous occasion for the world and the future of our oceans. We have finally reached a consensus on how to conserve and sustainably use the marine resources that belong to all of humanity,” said U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, as he popped open a bottle of Dom Perignon and tossed it into the water. “We are proud to toast to this landmark achievement and to show our appreciation to the ocean for providing us with so much life and beauty.”
The pact, which was negotiated by more than 190 countries over the course of four years, aims to establish a legal framework for the conservation and management of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, covering nearly half of the planet’s surface. The pact also sets out mechanisms for the creation of marine protected areas, the sharing of benefits from marine genetic resources, and the monitoring and enforcement of environmental standards.
The pact is expected to enter into force in 2025, after it is ratified by at least 50 countries. However, some environmentalists and experts have criticized the pact as too weak and vague, and have warned that it may not be enough to prevent the degradation and exploitation of the ocean by human activities. “This pact is a joke and a disgrace. It does nothing to address the root causes of the ocean crisis, such as overfishing, pollution, climate change, and plastic waste. It is full of loopholes and exemptions that will allow countries and corporations to continue to plunder and destroy the ocean with impunity,” said Sylvia Earle, a renowned marine biologist and ocean advocate. “The U.N. should be ashamed of itself for celebrating this sham and for adding more trash to the ocean. This is not a toast, this is a funeral.”