» Biosphere Reserves: tools to improve living conditions
28.06.2016 - Natural Sciences Sector

Biosphere Reserves: tools to improve living conditions

Workshop ‘Biosphere Reserves’ Products and Services, tools to improve living conditions’ in Bogota, Colombia, June 2016. © UNESCO/Maria Rosa Cardenas Tomazic

UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere programme, in coordination with the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of Colombia, organized a two-day workshop entitled ‘Biosphere Reserves’ Products and Services, tools to improve living conditions’ in Bogota, Colombia, which was opened by the Vice-Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Mr Pablo Vieira Samper, on 22 June 2016.

The workshop was attended by over forty representatives of Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Spain related to the field of biosphere reserves, and aimed to generate an exchange of experiences on sustainable economic activities and good practices being carried out in biosphere reserves around the world.

Through a series of interactive presentations, the panellists discussed the different steps they followed, the challenges they encountered, and the socio-economic benefits and sustainable development they achieved through the promotion of products and services of their biosphere reserves.
The manager of the La Palma Biosphere Reserve in Spain, Mr Antonio San Blas Álvarez, explained how this biosphere reserve has worked over the last ten years to achieve sustainability, in part through the use of the ‘Biosphere Reserve’ label on food products and handicrafts, and by companies.

The Executive Director of the Amazonia Viva Foundation, Mr Roldán Rojas, demonstrated how a region can move from planting coca to cocoa and in the process become Peru’s fifth biosphere reserve.

Ms June Marie Mow, an international consultant, spoke about the products and services offered in the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve in Colombia, while the Mayor of the Municipality of Hijuelas in Chile, Ms Veronica Rossat, presented the work performed by her municipality within the framework of the Campana – Peñuelas Biosphere Reserve, and explained how international designation as a biosphere reserve helped to defend their natural heritage and develop the local economy of the area.

This workshop was developed within the BRESEP project ‘Biosphere Reserves as a Tool for Coastal and Island Management in the South-East Pacific Region’, which held its fourth meeting from 23 to 24 June. The five participating countries – Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Peru – and the representative of the Flemish Government of the Kingdom of Belgium, which is funding this project, participated in the meeting.

The objective of this project is to create and strengthen existing biosphere reserves in coastal areas and islands of the eastern South Pacific in the above-mentioned countries. The project also aims to promote biosphere reserves as tools for innovative projects to add value to local socio-economic activities, and raise awareness and build capacity of stakeholders in the area.

During the fourth meeting, the countries discussed the various advances in their projects, a twinning project between the Colón Biosphere Reserve (Galapagos) in Ecuador and the Juan Fernandez Archipelago in Chile, and the creation of a transboundary biosphere reserve between Ecuador and Peru – due to become the second transboundary reserve in Latin America.

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