Part of my job while here in the US is to follow the negotiations of the upcoming treaty on biodiversity protection in areas beyond national jurisdiction, with a special focus (for me) on plastics and the Arctic, with the Arctic ocean being an emerging ocean as the ice is melting and more of it is becoming navigable. The negotiations are taking place for two years in New York City, twice per year, and there was an organizational meeting in April that my friend and colleague Elizabeth Nyman from Texas A&M University at Galveston – where I am affiliated – works, in the Maritime Studies program.
The first meeting proper was taking place from September 4th-17th 2018, which in essence was right after I got to Houston, and as such this was not ideal. The kids had only been in school for two weeks and I had to leave them first with my mom for a week and then my husband came over from Norway for 10 days to take care of them the rest of the time – I still felt that I was missing out on some very important first days for the kids.
However, as it is when I travel, I immerse myself wholly in my travel and work, and I spend a total of ten days in New York city with my colleages Elizabeth Nyman (Texas A&M), Elizabeth Mendenhall (University of Rhode Island) and Elizabeth De Santo (Franklin and Marshall College) – we jokingly say that if we were an 80s band we would have called ourselves Rachel and the Elizabeths.
Together, we observed the negotiations, took notes and coded the information into countries and “who-said-what” on different topics. We also held a number of in-depth interviews with delegates, NGOs and IGO representatives, and not only that – we also managed to get a piece published by the MonkeyCages of the Washington Post – which is also amazing. And we spent a lot of time talking, planning, and writing on other articles that were related to these High Seas issues.
This is the link to the MonkeyCage piece we published – it is called 71 countries are negotiating a new biodiversity treaty. Here’s what you need to know. The title refers to what countries actually spoke and does not reflect how many countries were represented. For example, Algeria spoke on behalf of 54 African nations, so very few other African nations spoke during the meetings, with Togo being a notable exception. In addition, the EU spoke on behalf of its member nations, and Egypt spoke on behalf of G77 and China – representing over 130 nations, and so on.
Stay tuned for more articles on this topic coming up – we have a piece under review at Marine Policy and we are also working on two other pieces as we speak – so we hope to discuss this in detail over the next few years. On the top picture by the way – that is me in the red shirt on the big screen 🙂