A groundbreaking environmental agreement has just been met after decades of talks - and it has the power to save the oceans

The High Seas Treaty marks a big step forward.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Today, after almost two decades of talks, a groundbreaking new UN agreement has been signed.

The historic agreement, which vows to protect the world's oceans, has been agreed upon by 200 countries, with Greenpeace calling it "the biggest conservation victory ever." 

Coined the High Seas Treaty, the grant sets out protection for 30% of international waters by 2030 (at current, only 1.2% of our oceans are protected from damaging mining, fishing, shipping and so on).

Introducing the High Seas Treaty

Meeting in New York, world leaders spent a mammoth 38 hours negotiating the deal and pushed through two earlier deadlocked bids.

This comes after 20 years of talks from the United Nations and means there is now a legal framework laid out to protect the high seas.

Several celebrities even leant their hand petitioning for the treaty to be finalised, with the likes of Jane Fonda, Alec Baldwin and Shailene Woodley all calling for the UN to sign the deal and prevent further ocean exploitation.

So, why is this so important? Simply put, because our oceans are vital for the health of our planet. Not only do they produce around half the oxygen we as humans breathe, but they also make up 95% of the earth's biosphere, soaking up damaging and global warming-causing carbon dioxide.

Speaking on the historic agreement, the conference president Rena Lee said: "In Singapore, we like to go on learning journeys, and this has been the learning journey of a lifetime."

Going on to thank their room for their dedication to the cause, she added: “The success is also yours."

She was met with a standing ovation after delegates stayed for nearly two and a half days to make sure the deal was met.

While there's still a long way to go to ensure the treaty is in fact met, it marks a positive step forwards. 

Veronica Frank, the political adviser for Greenpeace, said: “We are really happy. The world is so divided and to see multilateralism supported is so important."

“What’s really important is now to use this tool to develop this 30x30 target into force really quickly.”

The treaty comes after countries initially agreed to a 30x30 pledge at the UN Biodiversity Conference in December, promising to protect at least a third of our oceans by 2030. Without the signing of the High Seas Treaty, the agreement would be an empty promise with no plan of action.

Now that a legal system is in place, activists, campaigners and experts alike are sharing their confidence that the protection will indeed go ahead.

Here at Marie Claire UK, we're passionate about protecting our planet and believe living more sustainably needn't be overwhelming - rather, it can be fun, as our guides to vintage clothing stores and B Corp brands prove. 

Huge well done to all involved. 

Ally Head
Senior Health, Sustainability and Relationships Editor

Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Senior Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, nine-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She's won a BSME for her sustainability work, regularly hosts panels and presents for events like the Sustainability Awards, and is a stickler for a strong stat, too, seeing over nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.