Although Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) are not part of the European Union (EU) itself, they remain associated with it and collaborate on many topics, including issues related to the preservation of the environment. While the OCTs are characterized by a great diversity from an economic, geographical or legal point of view, they share, however, common challenges related to their insularity and the importance of their maritime domain.
The OCTs cover an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of more than 17 million km², making it the largest maritime zone in the planet. Oceans are therefore of particular strategic importance for the OCTs. Four of the ten largest marine protected areas in the world are in the OCTs, including the national nature reserve (NNR) of the French Southern Lands and its perimeter of protection, which together make up the largest of these four MPAs with 1.6 million km².
Oceans have also become a central part of the international agenda and will be the focus of the future discussions at the 2019 Santiago Conference on Climate Change (COP 25) and the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).
In this context, a conference dedicated to the oceans was held this week in Brussels, organized by the Association of Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTA). Bringing together 22 OCTs, the OCTA aims to promote OCT common positions for sustainable development to the EU through cooperation, capacity building and communication.