Inclusive innovation: Enhancing global participation in and benefit sharing linked to the utilization of marine genetic resources from areas beyond national jurisdiction
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.