Elections Galore – an Essential Year for Ocean Conservation

Date: 23rd January 2024

In the year ahead, the world will witness an “Election Super Year”, with numerous countries hosting elections to determine their future governments. The number of elections in 2024 has the potential to create high turnover in governments and policy, which can heavily influence international collaboration on pressing issues such as climate change and environmental issues – specifically ocean conservation. Leaders elected in the year ahead will have the power to shape policies and partnerships that directly impact the health of our ocean. 

As we look to 2025, with major moments for our ocean – 3rd United Nations Ocean Conference, IUCN World Conservation Congress, UNFCCC30, the potential start of deep-sea mining in international waters, conclusion of Plastic Treaty negotiations – it is clear that the outcomes from 2024’s elections are crucial if progress in ocean conservation can and will continue. 

High Seas Treaty Ratification: 

With the High Seas Treaty formally adopted in June 2023, the ratification process needs to occur quickly for this historic treaty to become law. To date, 84 countries have signed the treaty but only 1 (Palau) has officially ratified it. Once 60 countries ratify, the treaty will enter into force and the potential for high seas marine protected areas and effective environmental impact assessments for activities in areas beyond national jurisdiction can become a reality. Changes in governments may delay the ratification process and it could take years for the treaty to enter into force – does the ocean have this time? 


The ocean and the climate are inseparable issues. The IPCC and IPBES both conclude that if we don’t take immediate action to tackle the nature and climate crises together and reduce CO2 emissions, there will be disastrous and irreversible impacts on ocean life that threaten our existence. Elected leaders will hold the key to pushing effective ocean-climate actions to ensure the planet remains below 1.5 degrees warming, through areas like marine renewable energy, zero-emission shipping fuels, restoring marine ecosystems, and supporting resilient aquatic food systems that will contribute to healthy and regenerative ecosystems. 

Marine Protected Areas: 

With the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP16) set to take place in 2024 and with the world fast approaching the Global Biodiversity Framework Target 3 deadline – 30% protection by 2030 – the need for bold and strong leadership to enact fully and highly protected marine protected areas is essential. Driven and ambitious governments will be crucial if we are to reach the 30% target. 

Deep-Sea Mining: 

The issue of deep-sea mining continues to be a hot topic, even with scientists shouting that if the activity is permitted to proceed within national and/or international waters, the consequences on nature and climate would be permanent and irreversible. Reports continue to illustrate that deep-sea mining is not needed to supply the minerals and metals required for the green transition and would only financially benefit a select few. To date 24 countries have announced their support for a pause or ban on the industry, however, more countries will need to join these calls or the world could sleepwalk into the largest mining operation humanity has ever seen

There is no future without a healthy ocean. The coming elections offer a unique opportunity to steer the course of ocean conservation and ensure the well-being of our planet for future generations. Let’s make sure that those who step into positions of power in 2024 prioritize the health and preservation of our ocean. After all, the choices we make today will ripple through the depths of our sea, shaping the future of our blue planet.

See the full list of Key 2024 Ocean Moments here.

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