Negotiations for a new international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) have commenced. For the new agreement to be fair and effective, it is vital that all States are able to participate in the long-term sustainable use and conservation of the ocean beyond national jurisdiction. This includes participation in marine scientific research and the utilization of marine genetic resources (MGR) through subsequent innovation processes. Open access to MGR, such as data, coupled with capacity building, can promote the equitable sharing of benefits associated with MGR. In this paper, it is hypothesized that an ‘inclusive innovation’ approach may facilitate participation and promote enhanced engagement in the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction. A number of existing genetic resource initiatives provide examples of efforts to foster inclusivity in the innovation process, including BioBricks, Open Source Drug Discovery, GenBank and the Global Genome Biodiversity Network. An analysis of these examples enables clear identification of common elements that are adopted by such initiatives, whereby inclusive innovation either develops naturally or is promoted actively through measures for open access, capacity building, and collaboration. By empowering more States and stakeholders to participate in research and innovation processes, global potential in terms of enhanced scientific knowledge and opportunities associated with biodiversity of ABNJ can be promoted and the overall objective of the conservation and sustainable use can be best pursued.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement ID: GA 721421 H2020-MSCA-ITN-2016.
Declaration of competing interest
MJ is founder of, has shares in, and consultant to GyreOx Ltd, a company that uses marine genetic resources from areas within national jurisdiction to develop potential drug molecules.
Many thanks to Arianna Broggiato and Abbe Brown for helpful discussions and comments on the manuscript. Thanks also to the Marie Curie H2020 fund for supporting this research.