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Marine Environment

Question for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

UIN 140106, tabled on 19 January 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what his priorities are for (a) ocean conservation, (b) the promotion of marine biodiversity, and (c) the role of sustainable oceans policy in relation to climate change, ahead of COP26.

This answer is the replacement for a previous holding answer.

Answered on

26 January 2021

The Government recognises that a healthy ocean is vital to life and livelihoods on Earth. Ocean conservation and protection of marine biodiversity is particularly important for building resilience and adapting to the impacts of climate change, as well as supporting mitigation.

That is why we are leading efforts to secure international agreement to protect at least 30% of the global ocean by 2030 (30by30) as part of the new Global Biodiversity Framework. The framework is due to be agreed at the next meeting of the Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2021.

To support this ambition the UK has set up and leads the Global Ocean Alliance and has joined the High Ambition Coalition as Ocean Co-Chair. The UK is also pushing for other ambitious and transformative targets as part of the new post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. Marine biodiversity priorities include targets on ecosystem restoration, pollution reduction, sustainable use of biodiversity, reform and elimination of harmful subsidies and nature-based solutions.

We are also playing a leading role in negotiations for a new agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (the BBNJ Agreement). This would enable, in particular, the designation of Marine Protected Areas in the high seas - essential to implementing the 30 by 30 target. The final round of negotiations is planned for August and the UK wants to see an ambitious agreement concluded this year.

We have committed to establishing a new £500 million Blue Planet Fund using ODA to support developing countries protect the marine environment and reduce poverty. This will contribute to the UK's commitment to spend at least £3 billion of international climate finance to protect and restore nature and biodiversity over the next 5 years.

Through the £25 million Blue Belt programme, we have protected over 4 million square kilometres of ocean around our Overseas Territories, ranging from the Southern Ocean to the tropics.

Tackling climate change itself is vital for ocean health. As COP26 Presidency we are pushing for ambitious and accelerated action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

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