Rena Lee

1 minute read
By Sylvia Earle

Imagine navigating negotiations for a legal framework governing human activities over and under about half of the world. That has been the challenge facing Rena Lee, Singapore’s ambassador for oceans and law of the sea issues and the president of a U.N. intergovernmental conference on marine biodiversity, during five years of turbulent discussions over efforts to safeguard life in the high seas. With calm dignity, determination, and grace, Lee successfully led deliberations to legally protect biodiversity within the blue heart of the planet, the cornerstone of earth’s life-support system. Thunderous applause and cheers erupted from those attending the historic meeting last spring when, after nearly 40 hours of nonstop wrangling, Lee announced, “The ship has reached the shore.” We all should applaud her heroic moves, breaking decades of deadlock over governance of human actions that impact not just the future of tunas, sharks, squids, and whales, but that of all of life on earth—humans included.

Earle is an oceanographer and the president and chair of Mission Blue

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