UNITED NATIONS, April 16 (Xinhua) -- Miroslav Lajcak, president of the UN General Assembly, said here Monday that multilateralism was crucial in solving challenges to the protection of marine biodiversity.
Member States should focus on reaching an internationally binding agreement to protect areas beyond national jurisdiction, Lajcak said at a three-day meeting on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity, which is aimed to find out a road map to implement such protection over the next two years.
There was a strong case to protect the oceans and biodiversity, he said, adding that the oceans and seas held plants and animals which could be used for medical purposes.
Over 3 billion people are believed to be relying on oceans for their livelihoods.
Miguel de Serpa Soares, UN under-secretary-general for legal affairs and secretary-general of the intergovernmental conference, said that the conference represented a critical phase in the discussion of the General Assembly on issues relating to marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.
The oceans, he said, formed an integral and essential component of the earth's ecosystem and it is critical to sustain it.
Marine biodiversity produced a third of the oxygen that humans breathed and also moderated global climate conditions, while providing a valuable source of protein for human consumption, de Serpa Soares said.
The first World Ocean Assessment had indicated that the world's oceans were facing major pressures simultaneously. As a result, the limits of their carrying capacity were either being reached or, in some cases, had already been reached, he said.
Unless those problems were addressed, de Serpa Soares cautioned, there was a major risk that they would combine to produce a destructive cycle of degradation in which the ocean could no longer provide those benefits.
He said that he had no doubt negotiations would be conducted in a spirit of cooperation with delegates recognizing vital importance of the issue.