“The ocean is the soul of our planet. Today you have breathed new life and new hope so that the ocean has a fighting chance,” said UN Secretary General António Guterres.
Russia distanced itself from the deal, calling certain elements of the text “completely unacceptable.”
The document provides for the creation of protected marine reserves in international waters, in areas that are unique, especially fragile or important for endangered species, according to AFP. While these reserves will take several years to create, the treaty is seen as crucial to achieving the goal set by all governments of protecting 30 percent of the planet’s land and oceans by 2030.
The new treaty also introduces the obligation to carry out an environmental impact assessment of proposed offshore activities. These impacts are not listed in the text, but can range from fishing to deep-sea mining. The treaty also establishes the principle of sharing the benefits of marine genetic resources harvested on the high seas, which generated tension until the last minute of the negotiations.
The text of the treaty will be open for signature on September 20, when dozens of heads of state and government meet in New York for the UN General Assembly. It is not yet known how many countries will decide to join him.