Atlantic nations commit to environmental, economic cooperation on sidelines of UN meeting

NEW YORK — (AP) — More than 30 Atlantic countries on four continents committed Monday to bolster coordination on economic development, environmental protection, maritime issues and more, the White House said.

The adoption of the Declaration on Atlantic Cooperation was completed Monday evening at a meeting hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken ahead of the start of the annual U.N. General Assembly meeting.

“The Atlantic connects and sustains us like never before,” Blinken told the gathering. He noted that the Atlantic hosts the largest amount of international shipping and, through undersea cables, is a thoroughfare for data traffic than any other ocean.

However, he said the Atlantic is also threatened by climate change, which has brought stronger and more devastating storms to vulnerable coastal communities and illegal fishing. “It's the heating and cooling of the Atlantic that is driving global climate and weather patterns,” he said.

The declaration includes a commitment to an open Atlantic region free from interference, coercion or aggressive action. The signatories also agreed to uphold sovereign equality, territorial integrity and political independence of states, and recognizes the role that each of the nations play in the Atlantic.

The effort to tighten coordination between coastal Atlantic countries across Africa, Europe, North America and South America was launched on the sidelines of last year's General Assembly with the creation of the Partnership for Atlantic Cooperation, a forum conceived by the Biden administration.

Nations that endorsed Monday's declaration are: Angola, Argentina, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Canada, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Iceland, Ireland, Liberia, Mauritania, Morocco, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, the Republic of the Congo, Senegal, Spain, Togo, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uruguay.

The White House pitched the forum as a way to improve cooperation between northern and southern Atlantic countries on key issues and come to agreement on a set of principles for the Atlantic region.

The World Bank estimates that Atlantic Ocean commerce contributes $1.5 trillion annually to the global economy and it expects that figure to double by 2030. Sustainable ocean economy sectors are estimated to generate almost 50 million jobs in Africa and to contribute $21 billion to the Latin American economy. But challenges include illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing; natural disasters; and illicit trafficking.

The declaration comes as thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of New York as world leaders gather in New York for the General Assembly. The activists are pushing world leaders to act with greater haste to curb climate change.

Many of the leaders of countries that cause the most heat-trapping carbon pollution will not be in attendance for this year's General Assembly. And some who are in attendance, including President Joe Biden, aren't planning to attend a climate-focused summit on Wednesday organized by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.