Should the ocean, which is such an incredible treasure, be made a sanctuary? This is the dilemma that led France to organize the One Ocean Summit, from February 9 to 11, 2022 in Brest. While the issue of seabed mining was central, it should not overshadow other issues such as plastic pollution, overfishing, and damage caused to the biodiversity.
What is the One Ocean Summit?
The One Planet movement (a branch of the One Ocean Summit) was created to keep the “fight against climate disruption” and the “protection of nature” at the highest political level. Launched in December 2017 as a joint initiative of France, the UN and the World Bank, I was based on a clear observation: preserving the planet requires more concrete commitments and a joint effort of all actors, public and private. The movement is therefore part of an international dynamic.
Who participated in the Brest meeting?
In addition to Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, and Charles Michel, President of the European Council, 41 nations from all continents were represented. Amongst them: China, France, the United States, Tunisia, Colombia, and so on…
Alongside political decision-makers, business leaders and civil society actors participated in this global event.
What was the outcome?
Thirteen commitments were taken by the end of the summit, structured around four main themes:
1. Protecting the biodiversity and resources of our oceans.
2. Joining forces with the ocean in the face of climate change.
3. Putting an end to plastic pollution of the oceans.
4. Placing the ocean at the heart of the international political agenda.
The most symbolic commitments are the following:
– An international agreement against plastic pollution: a dozen countries, including the United States and the entire European Union support the launch of negotiations under the aegis of the UN. In addition, India and France have committed to eliminating pollution from single-use plastics.
– The mapping of 80% of the seabed by 2030, under the aegis of UNESCO.
– a commitment to fight illegal fishing: 14 countries will strengthen the fight against illegal fishing, especially by mobilizing their State Navy for surveillance missions such as those conducted by France in its EEZ.
France also took national engagements, such as the extension of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands or the diminution, within 10 years, of all littoral that pose a risk of plastic waste discharge at sea.
What are the challenges for France?
Since the success of the COP21 in Paris, back in 2015, France has led the fight for environmental preservation. Today, the success of the One Ocean Summit also resonates in the context of its Presidency of the UE.
France’s credibility and legitimacy on the subject of the oceans protection stems from two factors: Paris has the second largest EEZ in the world, and has developed a specific doctrine to take care of it, the State Action at Sea, mostly based on the French Navy’s assets.
At the end of the summit, France and Costa Rica committed to organizing the next One Ocean Summit in 2024.