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Equity and benefit sharing from marine genetic resources in areas beyond national jurisdiction

Elisa Morgera

IIED Briefing, 4 pages

UN member states are negotiating how to share the benefits arising from the use of marine genetic resources in the deep seas. The process will lead to a new international legally binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. Negotiations have mainly focused on which marine genetic resources would be covered by a new instrument and which benefits would be shared but have not focused enough on how these benefits can be shared equitably. As the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are not currently conducting research on marine genetic resources of areas beyond national jurisdiction, an international mechanism and criteria for sharing both monetary and non-monetary benefits equitably can enable the LDCs to identify the benefits that best allow them to participate in — and benefit from — marine research, achieve sustainable development and respond to the global threats to the health of oceans.

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Marine and coastal resources support the livelihoods of millions of poor people across the world. They also provide a range of critical ecosystem services to the rest of the economy. The connection between high seas and coastal waters where small-scale fishers are active is relatively unexplored but already, the need for an ocean governance system, which will protect both areas, is evident.

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