30.05.2018 - UNESCO Office in Jakarta

Southeast Asia’s Biosphere Reserves share local solutions for global sustainability – and commit to telling their stories to the world

Handcrafts made by Local People in Baan Pong Krai Orchic Village Conservation

Rehabilitation of degraded forests, community-based orchid conservation, revival and promotion of traditional foods, herbal teas and sweets – these were some of the highlights presented by the people and managers of the Mae Sa-Kog Ma Biosphere Reserve in Chiang Mai, Thailand, during a one-day field visit held on the International Day for Biological Biodiversity, 22 May 2018, as part of the 11th meeting of the Southeast Asian Biosphere Reserve Network (SeaBRnet).

The products and activities on display spoke directly to the phrase "Made in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with love", proposed during a workshop on Biosphere Reserve communication held the following day as a phrase through which to create a common identity for products and services originating in Biosphere Reserves.

The 11th Southeast Asia Biosphere Reserves Network (SeaBRnet) meeting was held in Chiang Mai, Thailand from 21 – 25 May 2018, bringing together around 60 participants from the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) community in Southeast Asia, along with guests from the region’s other MAB networks – the South and Central Asia MAB Network (SACAM), the East Asian Biosphere Reserve Network (EABRN) and the Pacific Man and Biosphere (PacMAB).

Under the theme of "Biosphere Reserves: Exploring Local Solutions for Global Sustainability" and in order to focus and enhance the contributions of Biosphere Reserves to the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, the main objective of the 11th SeaBRnet meeting was to explore, devise and advance local solutions through the sharing of experiences from other networks; as well as how to promote and advance the BR concept as an efficient tool for sustainable economic and social development. Participating countries shared national and site-level updates. Among other topics covered, presentations demonstrated how the activities of individual biosphere reserves are linked with national planning and priorities, and shared new initiatives in biosphere reserve monitoring and evaluation.

Participants from across the four networks – together forming the Asia-Pacific Biosphere Reserve Network – reviewed and provided feedback to three draft documents prepared at the request of the network in 2014 and designed to help the region these objectives: a framework for biosphere reserve management informed by sustainability science; guidelines for applying eco-labelling in biosphere reserves; and a comparative study on legal aspects of biosphere reserve zonation. Made possible through support from Japan Funds-in-Trust (JFIT), these documents will now be finalized and their recommendations made available for discussion by delegates at the 30th MAB International Coordinating Council meeting to be held in Palembang, Sumatra, Indonesia, during 23-27 July 2018.

The programme also included a dedicated MAB Communication Workshop which equip participants with enhanced tools through which to communicate and share biosphere reserve experiences and achievements. Participants and organizers alike committed themselves to a range of further actions. Participating Biosphere Reserves will reinforce efforts at creating 60-second films about their site and their importance for both people and nature through the MAB Secretariat’s global "Proud to Share" campaign. New site-to-site training and capacity development activities will be developed. And in a further testimony to the strong commitment from the regional MAB community enjoyed by the network, the Philippines expressed interest in hosting the next meeting of the network – at which progress against the commitments made will be assessed.

The meeting and associated events were hosted by the Thailand National MAB Committee through the Thailand Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, facilitated by the SeaBRnet Secretariat at UNESCO Office Jakarta and UNESCO Office Bangkok, and supported by JFIT, the Government of Thailand, UNESCO Jakarta Office and the MAB Secretariat.

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