The ocean is home to remarkable biodiversity. Life in the ocean has existed three times as long as on land, resulting in unique genetic diversity that dwarfs that found terrestrially. The ocean genome - the genetic material present in all marine biodiversity - is the foundation upon which all marine ecosystems rest. It is integrally linked to the existence of life on Earth, including humanity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn renewed attention to the ocean genome, a rich source of anti-viral compounds and even a remarkable hydrothermal vent bacteria that produces enzymes that can be used in virus test kits. Despite the contribution the ocean genome has to human wellbeing, it is threatened by overexploitation, habitat loss and degradation, pollution, impacts from a changing climate, invasive species, and other pressures, as well as their cumulative effects.

This webinar will feature a new scientific paper, in support of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel), which identifies the current challenges faced by the ocean genome and provides a clear pathway to overcome them.

The paper’s authors and other experts in the field will discuss how the unique genetic diversity of the ocean can be protected, and how the benefits that come from exploring the ocean genome can be more equitably distributed, as well as the implications for policy makers, international cooperation and the new agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ).


  • Kristian Teleki, Head of Secretariat, High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, World Resources Institute (Moderator)
  • H.E. Ms. Ngedikes Olai Uludong, Permanent Representative of Palau to the United Nations and High Level Panel Sherpa (Opening Remarks)
  • Dr. Robert Blasiak, Researcher, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University (Lead Author and Panelist)
  • Dr. Kirsten Grorud-Colvert, Assistant Professor Senior Research, Oregon State University (Lead Author and Panelist)
  • Dr. Siva Thambisetty, Associate Professor in Intellectual Property Law, London School of Economics and Political Science (Lead Author and Panelist)
  • Professor Rachel Wynberg, Bio-economy Research Chair, University of Cape Town (Lead Author and Panelist)
  • Professor Alex Rogers, Science Director, REV Ocean (Contributing Author and Panelist)

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