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One Ocean Summit: World Leaders Arrive in France

World leaders arrived in the French city of Brest today to attend the One Ocean Summit. This is the maiden One Ocean summit, hosted by France, at the initiative of the Presidency and will conclude on 11 February. The summit will seek to arrive at consensus within the international community to resolve some of the pressing maritime issues.

It is expected that at least 40 leaders will participate in this summit which gets underway from 9 February. Some of the pressing issues are making commitments towards combating illegal fishing, reducing plastic pollution, and decarbonizing ships.

According to the chief organizer, Olivier Poivre d’Arvor, this high-level summit is essential. In his words, “The climate has its Cop process but there is no equivalent for the ocean, at a time when man’s relationship with the marine world has become more and more toxic, and global heating is causing extreme change.”

The three-day event will also focus on strengthening governance of high seas and coordinating scientific research across nations.

France, which is now heading the EU presidency for six-month, has taken the lead in blue diplomacy.

It may be noted that oceans cover 70 percent of earth’s surface and can play a crucial role in climate change regulation. Oceans are also a source of several minerals and other resources. The waterways form critical links between nations and the movement of trade and commerce.

The organisers and participants will attempt to draw tangible measures to counter some of the pressing issues.

It is expected that some of the heads of governments will attend the summit in-person and some are likely to join virtually. The event will be attended by major shipping companies such as Maersk, Hapag-Lloyd, and CMA CGM. These shipping companies control about 55% of the global freight. Along with them, policy makers, top scientists, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and international organisations will also attend the summit.

The President of the European Commission is likely to announce their collective commitments to resolve the issues.

The first two days of the event will have topical discussions and workshops among attendees.

The organisers are expecting that attendees can make some effort at arriving at regulatory norms to protect the maritime ecosystem and biodiversity. The UN is organizing Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction in New York in March this year.

India’s Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav has welcomed the summit and said that India is determined to protect its maritime interests, while it supports the maintenance of rule-based maritime systems, as mandated under the UN Convention on the Law of Seas (UNCLOS).