The permanent representative of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) to the United Nations in New York, Ambassador Jeem Lippwe has emphasised the urgent need for decisive global action on ocean protection in light of the climate crisis.

“Micronesia welcomes the reports of the UN Secretary-General under Article 319 of the Convention,” Ambassador Lippwe said in a statement at the Thirty-fourth Meeting of States Parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

He stressed that these reports offer critical insights, especially when considering the severe impacts of climate change on marine environments.

Ambassador Lippwe highlighted the unprecedented crisis facing the oceans due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

“The Ocean is in a severe crisis, to a degree that is unprecedented in recorded human history,” he said.

He referenced the advisory opinion from the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, which classified such emissions as pollution under the Convention.

According to Ambassador Lippwe, the Tribunal stressed the importance of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels to fulfill State Parties’ obligations regarding marine pollution.

He pointed out that merely adhering to the commitments under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement might not be enough.

“Micronesia echoes the Tribunal’s determination that while all States Parties are obligated to address anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, those with greater resources and capabilities must take the lead,” Ambassador Lippwe stressed.

This includes efforts in emission mitigation, finance provision, technology transfer, and capacity building for less-resourced nations.

“States Parties are very far off the mark in discharging these obligations,” he warned, urging vigilance and accountability for breaches under the Convention.

Turning to seabed mining, Ambassador Lippwe acknowledged the work of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) on the Mining Code but cautioned against hasty actions.

“One of our guiding principles is that addressing the needs of the present generation must not come at the expense of future generations,” he emphasised.

Ambassador Lippwe argued that while transitioning away from fossil fuels is crucial, it should not result in poorly regulated exploitation of marine areas, potentially causing a new form of pollution.

“Replacing one form of harm to the marine environment with another is not a responsible approach to Ocean management,” he said, citing Article 195 of the Convention which prohibits transforming one form of marine pollution into another.

Ambassador Lippwe also celebrated the adoption of the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) Agreement, urging swift ratification by all States.

“Micronesia was the first State to sign and the seventh to deposit an instrument of ratification for the Agreement,” he noted. The nation has included declarations in its instrument of ratification, affirming that maritime zones established in accordance with the Convention will continue to apply despite climate change-related sea-level rise.

He encouraged other States to adopt similar declarations, highlighting the era’s climate crisis.