Can “Monkey Business” Resolve the Most Contentious Issue in the Convention on Biological Diversity?

  •  Gabriel Marrero-Girona    
  •  Joseph Vogel    


Access to genetic resources and “fair and equitable” sharing of benefits (ABS) is the elusive objective of the 1992 United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. At the tenth Conference of the Parties, long-standing differences were immortalized through the capacious language of the “Nagoya Protocol [NP] on the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from the Utilization of Genetic Resources.” Although the NP does not resolve any contentious issue, the opposing narratives of scientist-as-hero and scientist-as-villain are reconciled through “mutually agreed terms” (MAT). The uncontested concept appears twenty-five times and transparency, thrice. An alternative narrative from the economics of information explains how “confidential business information,” subsumed in MAT, frustrates any “fair and equitable” royalty rate. Insights from psychology facilitate the brokerage of a fair and equitable rate and the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico lends itself to a pilot project on the International Regime on ABS.

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