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New York, U.S.A – September 25, 2019:6.45pm (Nuku’alofa Times): MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary, wants to ensure the protection of the Artic Ocean as a conservation area sanctioned by the international community.

Legal Counsel Vandana Erin Ryder said at the UN this morning that this was critical so that the world is protected from what could happen if the Artic is opened for use and abuse.

“The dire situation in the Bahamas underscores the urgent need to protect the Arctic Ocean from all exploitation, so the sea ice, which is the Earth’s natural cooling system, it not destroyed further,” Ms Ryder said in an interview at the UN today.

“All countries in the world, especially the low-lying climate vulnerable nations of the South Pacific, depend on healthy sea ice to keep our global climate stable and our food and water supplies safe, as well as to mitigate dangerous storms and sea level rise.”

Two South Pacific countries, Samoa and the Cook Islands, have already signed the MAPS Treaty.

Ms Ryder said the support of all leaders from the South Pacific is needed, “so this precious region of our world, so very threatened by the dangerous effects of the loss of Arctic sea ice, can raise their voices in unison and call the people of the world to safety – before time, and ice, run out”.

She said the all-volunteer international non-profit organization Parvati.org has launched its online viral campaign in support of MAPS.

“MAPS is a critical global initiative to protect the key Arctic Ocean ecosystem that keeps our planet cool,” she said.

“The Arctic Ocean is our planetary life support system. The rapid disappearance of sea ice that has served as the Earth’s air conditioner for millions of years has profound and far-reaching consequences. As the ice melts, the entire global climate system destabilizes, leading to extreme weather patterns that compromise the food and water supplies upon which lives everywhere depend.”

She said MAPS establishes the Arctic Ocean north of the Arctic Circle as a permanent international marine protected area free from all activities harmful to the life-giving sea ice, including commercial fishing, natural resource exploitation, seismic testing, military activity and through shipping traffic.

“At the same time, MAPS catalyzes an immediate global pivot to renewable energies, and a paradigm shift from short-term greed to long-term good. This profoundly practical yet effective response to so many problems facing our world today must be implemented now, before time and ice run out,” she added.

To support the swift realization of MAPS, Parvati.org took the unprecedented step of creating the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary Treaty as an addendum to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The Treaty has been translated into all six official languages of the UN, distributed to all 193 member states, and brought every year since 2015 to UN Climate Conferences by volunteers at their own expense. It enters into force with the signatures of 99 states members of the UN or any of the specialized agencies, and has already been endorsed by two world leaders.

“The Arctic Ocean sustains us all, but it can only protect us if we protect it. Although exploitation poses a tremendous threat, most people still do not yet realize the melting Arctic ice is a global emergency,” she said.

“For MAPS to be established, the world needs to understand why the emergency is so dire for each one of us, and that MAPS will safeguard this endangered ecosystem while catalyzing the needed global shift to sustainability.”

Ms Ryder said they are continuing to seek audiences with world leaders in their bid to raise awareness about MAPS.

At the UN Climate Summit this week she has been helped by youth volunteers who have believed the importance of the project.

She is also seeking to get more support from Pacific leaders, through the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat or the Pacific Islands Non Government Organisation (PIANGO).

“We want to meet anyone and everyone who is keen to join us and help us make this a reality,” she said.

“We are running out of time and we need to act to stop the melting of ice, the destruction of natural habitats and the rising of sea levels in the low lying islands of the Pacific and Small Island Developing States.”

Iliesa Tora’s presence at the UN has been made possible with funding from the UN-OHRLLS and the Forum Secretariat (PIFS).

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