When world leaders meet for the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi, March 11-15, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary (MAPS) will be front and centre. MAPS is being proposed as an “innovative solution for environmental challenges,” by the accredited Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) Major Group. As the Arctic sea ice continues to melt with grave repercussions for all life, this endorsement of MAPS is vitally important.
The Arctic Ocean is our planet’s air conditioner and life support. Its ice regulates the weather that gives us the food and water we need to survive. But it’s under attack from oil, shipping, fishing and military interests that seek to exploit its open waters.
The all-volunteer organization Parvati.org saw this growing emergency and took the unprecedented step to draft an international treaty as an addendum to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The organization’s volunteers translated the MAPS Treaty into all six official languages of the UN and sent it to the leaders of all 193 member states. With the signatures of 99 nations, the Treaty takes effect. It makes all ocean waters north of the Arctic Circle an international peace park, free from exploitation and military activity.
“MAPS is an urgently needed, refreshingly simple and effective response to the crisis we face today,” says award-winning musician, author and activist Parvati, the founder of Parvati.org. “It not only turns the Arctic Ocean into the largest protected area in history, for the sake of life everywhere on Earth, it catalyzes a global shift to sustainability on all levels and inspires a change from short-term gain for a few to the long-term good of all.”
MAPS is supported by luminaries including Dr. Jane Goodall, UN Messenger of Peace and Yvo De Boer, Former Former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. According to Dr. Goodall, it is “hugely important to establish the proposed Sanctuary,” while Mr. de Boer calls MAPS “the only sane choice for the critically vulnerable Arctic ecosystem, for the sake of our seas, our atmosphere and all life.”
Though African nations have contributed the least to the environmental and humanitarian crisis unfolding in our world today, they face some of the most severe effects. The 54 African nations have the opportunity to immediately change the game by creating critical mass on the MAPS Treaty, which has already been signed by Samoa and the Cook Islands. Former Seychelles president James Michel is a strong supporter of MAPS. He says, “The Arctic – no matter where we come from and where we live – is the common heritage of all humans. Its fate and future have serious consequences for all of us.”
Parvati.org, led by Director of Strategic Initiatives Darcy Belanger, will be on site in Nairobi to meet with government officials and secure MAPS Treaty signatures. The NGO Major Group is calling on all “governments to become signatories to the MAPS Treaty on an urgent basis to allow the effective entry into force by December 2019 of this vital protection for the Arctic Ocean, its ecosystems, and all life on Earth.”
Parvati says, “The Arctic Ocean plays a pivotal role in our lives. Its health and well-being are linked inextricably to our own. When the Arctic Ocean is under threat, all of life on the planet is at risk. MAPS must be declared immediately to protect not only the Arctic Ocean, but the world. I implore world leaders to carefully consider the consequences of not acting to protect the Arctic Ocean, and sign the MAPS Treaty now.”