Written by Nereus Research Fellow Harriet Harden-Davies,
Harriet Harden-Davies was one of five international experts invited to attend a high-level dialogue at the Nobel Institute in Oslo, 20-21 January 2020. Conducted under the Chatham House rule, the dialogue convened approximately 35 participants, including heads of delegations and Ministers, to share views on the topic of marine genetic resources and benefit-sharing. This topic has been one of the most challenging issues to date in the negotiations for a new international legally binding instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (BBNJ agreement).
The BBNJ agreement is critical to strengthen the ocean governance framework to enable area-based management tools, environmental impact assessments, sharing benefits from marine genetic resources, and capacity building and technology transfer. As the eight-week countdown commenced to the fourth
round of negotiations at UN headquarters – this dialogue provided an important opportunity for informal discussions to find areas of common ground. Among the topics of discussion, the role of scientific cooperation in sharing knowledge and data emerged as one of the areas of common ground.
As the discussions continued late into the night, the photographs of Nobel Peace Prize winners lining the halls of the Nobel Peace Centre provided a pertinent backdrop and powerful reminder of the potency of ambition, hope and perseverance in international cooperation efforts.