Greenpeace USA calls for Biden administration leadership as latest round of global ocean treaty negotiations stalls

NEW YORK, NY (18, 2022) – Today, Greenpeace USA sent a letter to the Biden administration urging them to bring a high-level representative, such as Special Envoy John Kerry or a cabinet member, to the stalled negotiations for a global ocean treaty at the United Nations headquarters in New York to send. Hundreds marched through the streets of New York with Greenpeace USA to demand that world leaders protect the oceans we all depend on.

Shaama Sandooyea, an activist from Mauritius who spoke at the rally, said: “In Mauritius we are already feeling the effects of the marine crisis. We must act now, but negotiations are proceeding at an icy pace. Delegates simply don’t see the urgency of the situation. Instead of trying to find common ground on the more difficult issues, they waste valuable hours arguing about minor issues that were laid on the table decades ago. You are failing me and my community.”

The letter from Greenpeace USA states: “There is an urgent need for senior politicians to weigh and accelerate this process, lift procedures out of purely technical, circular discussions and bring the matter to a conclusion.”

Civil society and several member states, including France, have expressed concern that instead of treating the negotiations with the urgency needed for the passage of a strong global ocean treaty in August, delegates are instead turning to old debates on long-settled issues such as have reopened Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) for the purpose of conservation. Delays have also occurred as some countries in the Global North, including the United States, have refused to make concessions to meet the needs of the Global South on key justice-related issues.

Arlo Hemphill, Greenpeace USA Senior Oceans Campaigner attending the meeting, said: “If we don’t get a treaty in 2022, it will be virtually impossible to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. Scientists say this is the bare minimum needed to protect the oceans. But instead of acting with the urgency needed, delegates are acting like they have a decade left to talk about it. We are not. Our oceans are running out of time. We need a strong treaty to be struck in these negotiations. Governments should ramp up their ambition to complete these negotiations by sending ministerial-level officials into the second week of talks to get us across the finish line and secure a strong treaty.”

For these negotiations to be considered a success, the treaty must prioritize the establishment of a global network of marine protected areas (MPAs). Supporters of the treaty hope it will create a first-ever legal framework to protect biodiversity in international waters, including the creation of marine protected areas, environmental regulations and the use of environmental impact assessments that precede all human activities in the waters of nearly half the planet.

Similar letters have been sent from other Greenpeace offices to their respective governments, urging them to send senior ministers to the second week of talks.

At Thursday’s march, Shaama Saandooyea and other representatives from Nigeria, Mexico, Mauritius and Thailand delivered powerful speeches to protesters, sharing their perspectives on the sea crisis that is already hurting their communities and calling for more urgency to ensure a strong treaty will be finalized in 2022 . The lack of high-level engagement from ministers in the negotiations has slowed the progress of the talks, with only one minister from France taking part in the talks so far.

A lack of political prioritization remains the key sticking point responsible for the delay, and delegates are not acting as if they have a mandate to complete the process in the next two weeks.

Anta Diouf, a fish processor from Senegal, said: “I am sad that I cannot participate in the Global Ocean Treaty negotiations because my visa was not processed quickly enough. I would have liked to have attended this meeting to show governments the need to protect fish processor jobs and ask for better protection of the oceans and to share our desire to support the project to protect 30% of the oceans the world.”

Photos and videos are available here.


Contact: Tanya Brooks, Greenpeace USA Senior Communications Specialist, P: 703-342-9226, E: [email protected]

James Hanson, Global Media Lead, P: / +44 7801 212 994, [email protected]

Greenpeace USA is part of a global network of independent campaigning organizations that use peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental issues and promote solutions essential to a green and peaceful future. Greenpeace USA is committed to transforming the country’s unjust social, environmental and economic systems from the ground up to address the climate crisis, promote racial justice and build a people-centric economy. Learn more at

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