University professor launches new ocean map at UN

University professor launches new ocean map at UN

A University professor has helped launch an interactive map produced by the Royal Society that explains how marine biological resources can be used in the development of life-saving antibiotics.

Professor Marcel Jaspars is playing a key role advising a United Nations committee working towards a common set of rules on the use of resources from the deep sea, from mineral mining to genetic materials that can be used in drug development.

As part of this he has worked with the Royal Society and other experts on a report that provides an overview of current knowledge regarding the locations and potential uses for key resources. 

The interactive map – which is an easy to navigate accompaniment to this work – was unveiled at a session of the UN Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction, which is taking place in New York from July 10-21.

Professor Jaspars presented the map along with Richard Walker, Senior Policy Adviser at the Royal Society and Dr Judi Gobin of the University of the West Indies.

He said: “The launch of the interactive map at the UN was well received, and gave us the opportunity to discuss how we could enable access to marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction for research and development purposes.

“Looking ahead, the map provides a way for scientists and policy makers to explore the potential benefits that may arise from the sustainable use of marine biodiversity, for example the development of new medicines.  It will be an important resource for the delegates to this UN process to draw upon in their discussions.”

Professor Jaspars was a project leader of PharmaSea, a University of Aberdeen-led project that has explored the deep sea to uncover new bacteria that can be used as life-saving antibiotics.

His involvement in the PrepCom process marks the end of the PharmaSea project, and will be one of the major legacies delivered along with the discovery of drug molecules that are going into preclinical evaluation.

“Through PharmaSea we have been engaged with policy makers at the EU and UN level to provide impartial advice that aims to find a pragmatic solution to the competing views that exist over the best way to manage marine resources in international waters,” he said.

“We have already tested our ideas with EU and UN policy makers and they were well received, so we are hopeful that our involvement in the PrepCom will provide elements of a proposal that can be presented to the UN General Assembly.”


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