In 2016, E.O. Wilson, probably the world`s most famous living biologist, published a book called Half Earth, in which he suggested that we set aside about half the planet in different types of reserves to save lives on Earth (and ourselves). Unsurprisingly, the idea was immediately controversial – but it was also taken up by other scientists who were hungry in an ambitious and hopeful way to face the future of ecological Armageddon. Conservationists believe that our current crisis of mass extinction requires a much more ambitious agreement in the style of the Paris climate agreement. And they say the bill should be handed over not only to nation states, but also to businesses. On the other hand, it lacks a great signatory. Guess who? Yes, of course, the United States – those global scabby sheep. The non-binding treaty was signed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, but was never ratified by Congress. However, any other nation in the world is a member of the agreement. So, despite the disappointment, few of those who followed the discussions were surprised that the deadline had not been met. Wills insisted on an optimistic takeover and prepared for the release of a new draft and resumed negotiations next month. Even some external observers, such as Isabel Jarrett, director of the program to end fishing subsidies at the Pew Charitable Trusts, report progress and say the parties are “closer than ever to success.” The pressure of a WTO ministerial meeting may be necessary to put them in the final stretch, and even then the result could be an agreement with loopholes. In the meantime, as Mr.
Wills pointed out, the debt continues to grow. As the crisis group has already said, the EU and Oman have good contacts with the Houthis and Iran has repeatedly proposed to mediate in Yemen. Now would be a good moment for Tehran to prove its willingness and ability to convince the Huthis to engage constructively on Hodeida, first and foremost by allowing Cammaert`s team freedom of movement in the territory they hold and by encouraging quick, meaningful and `berifiable redeployment from the three ports. Brussels and Muscat can also help by caring for the Houthis in Sanaa and abroad, expressing support for redeployments and making it clear that their patience is waning. During his recent trip to Sanaa, Griffiths urged rebel leader Abdel-Malek al-Huthi to reaffirm his commitment to the agreement, including redistribution. While Cammaert awaits technical details, such pressure will continue on the Houthis, government and coalition representatives to live up to their commitments. Despite the publication last month of a revised “consolidated” draft text, large differences remain between the parties. These are bases such as the scope of the agreement (should it cover all types of subsidies?) and definitions of “overfishing” and “overexploited stocks” (environmentalists complain of relying on vague and unser scientific language). Should the subsidy ban apply only to individual vessels that are overexploited or to fleet operators (since a cash subsidy for the fuel of an innocent vessel is fungible)? Then there is the management of “unvalued” fish stocks, i.e.
stocks not sufficiently studied to be considered sustainable or not, which by some estimates account for more than 70% of global catches and many of which are considered to be largely overexploited.