Fair Biodiversity Politics With and Beyond Rawls


John Bernhard Kleba
Assistant Professor for Sociology and Political Science,
Technological Institute of Aeronautics,
Praça Marechal Eduardo Gomes, 50,
São José dos Campos,
São Paulo, Brazil, 12228-900





The access and benefit-sharing regime (ABS) of the Convention on Biological Diversity has been criticised for focusing on entitlements and asset exchanges. In this regard, the Nagoya Protocol provides little advance. This work introduces new paths of research and reasoning debating the tensions between the Rawlsian concept of justice and the realm of ABS. A new original position to debate fair biodiversity politics would include the concepts of justice of non-Western cultures. Taking the case of indigenous and traditional peoples, the issue of cultural minority rights is raised, challenging the institutionalisation of legal pluralism and political recognition. Against Bell, and with and beyond Rawls, arguments are provided favouring an environmental constitutionalism. The least advantaged concept shifts from an economical focus towards realising citizenship and applied to the ABS regime. Concerning the destination of benefits in ABS agreements, I advocate a complement between entitlements and the systemic aims of the Convention, prioritising the latter. Finally, controversies about the equity of benefit sharing are examined. Whereas the difference principle is helpful in tackling the economical and political asymmetries in ABS negotiations, it leaves core questions open. The Nagoya Protocol has advanced in providing legal tools to realise citizenship. However, political justice demands more. Concerns to benefit the least advantaged should be included in policy, bioprospecting project design and ABS contracts.


Access and benefit sharing, Convention on Biological Diversity, cultural and legal pluralism, difference principle, environmental justice, indigenous peoples and traditional communities, John Rawls, justice as fairness, Nagoya Protocol, minority rights.


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