Charged with Willing and Compassionate Hearts, Volunteers Speak Truth to Power for MAPS at the United Nations
From the streets of UN Headquarters in New York City to the green spaces of the Cerillos Bicentennial Park in Santiago, Chile, Parvati.org’s volunteers are reminding world leaders of the unparalleled opportunity they have in the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary Treaty to swiftly create the change our world needs.
In a time when governments delay or debate about how to meet the terms of the Paris agreement, this is undeniable: we need peace and we need to keep cool. MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary, is a refreshingly practical response to these uncertain, urgent times, designating the entire Arctic Ocean north of the Arctic Circle as the world’s largest preservation area for the good of all. In so doing, it protects the air conditioner of our planet and the global weather patterns that give us the food and resources we need to survive. It puts a stop to political and military jockeying in the area and creates a much-needed space for tranquil waters in a feverish world.
The uniquely effective MAPS Treaty, an addendum to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, was created by Parvati.org for two key reasons. First, international agreements typically take years to negotiate and implement. For example, discussions regarding protecting biodiversity in the high seas started in 2004; in 2018, UN member states finally decided to enter into formal treaty negotiations. The negotiations are scheduled for two years. When it comes to protecting the Earth’s air conditioner, we do not have this luxury of time. Every second, we lose 14,000 tons of Arctic ice. The MAPS Treaty is not subject to negotiation or modification: UN member states are simply invited to become parties. With 99 country signatures, it enters into force.
The second reason for the MAPS Treaty is that the United Nations has repeatedly acknowledged, but has not responded to, the grave threat facing humanity due to the rapidly melting Arctic sea ice. Every year commencing from 2007, the UN General Assembly has passed resolutions reaffirming “its deep concern over the vulnerability of the environment and the fragile ecosystems of the polar regions, including the Arctic Ocean and the Arctic ice cap.” Yet, the UN General Assembly has taken no steps to protect the Arctic Ocean ecosystem. In fact, a UN specialized agency (the International Maritime Organization) is doing the opposite: actively encouraging commercial shipping in Arctic waters. The United Nations is working at cross purposes when it comes to the effective stewardship of the Arctic Ocean.
Charged above all with willing and compassionate hearts, Parvati.org’s all-volunteer team around the world has selflessly and courageously given to MAPS since its inception in December 2014. On their own time and travelling on their own funds, many have boldly stepped into the halls of power to speak up as concerned citizens and remind world leaders of the urgent need to protect life on Earth. That’s how MAPS has already gone from the original vision by its founder Parvati to international law in the process of entering into force, with two countries’ signatures already received on the MAPS Treaty.
Most recently, two Parvati.org volunteers attended the UN General Assembly 74 in New York. General Counsel Vandana Erin Ryder met many heads of government to talk about the MAPS Treaty, while Outreach, Research and Relations Lead Dr. Karen Ho developed relationships with key stakeholders, all to move MAPS forward at the swift pace we need. Vandana and Karen also spoke directly with multiple ministers of environment and foreign affairs, who promised to raise the emergency of the melting Arctic sea ice, and the practical and immediate response found in MAPS, with their governments.
Next up for Parvati.org, MAPS and the UN is COP 25, the United Nations Conference of the Parties taking place in Santiago, Chile in early December. For the first time, Parvati.org will be at COP without its Director of Strategic Initiatives, Darcy Belanger, who died aboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on his way to the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi earlier this year. Having worked closely with Darcy for years and attended previous COP events together, Vandana and Karen will carry MAPS forward in Santiago. They will bring the opportunity for world leaders to sign the MAPS Treaty on the spot—just as Vandana and Darcy did with Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna did last year. Puna remarks, “Whether we are a small island in the vast Pacific, or a large continent that extends into the Arctic Circle, we each bear a responsibility. This is why the Cook Islands are going to support the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary Treaty. The time for bold action is now, and while my country has already started, we support others to do the same.”