» Celebrating twenty years of collaboration on Biosphere Reserves in the Arab States
23.05.2017 - Natural Sciences Sector

Celebrating twenty years of collaboration on Biosphere Reserves in the Arab States

The regional network of the Man and the Biophere programme for the Arab States (ArabMAB) gathered in Algiers, Algeria, to celebrate its 20th anniversary on 22 May 2017. The meeting was opened by H.E. Nouria Benghabrit, Algerian Minister of National Education and President of the Algerian National Commission for UNESCO, in the presence of Ms. Flavia Schlegel, UNESCO Assistant Director General for Natural Sciences; Dr. Abulgassem El Badri, Director of Science and Scientific Research of the Arab League Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ALECSO), and representatives of the Algerian General Directorate for Forests, the League of Arab States and the Man and the Biosphere Programme.

ArabMAB was created to promote co-operation in the region, including through the establishment of biosphere reserves and the implementation of common research and public awareness projects. The network includes 30 Biosphere Reserves in 11 countries, and function as artisans for peace and sustainability, touching the lives of over 7 million people. In her opening remarks, Minister Nouria Benghabrit encouraged participants to share best practices tested in biosphere reserves in the Arab States and to have a constructive exchange during the thematic workshop on green economy, in order to strengthen the economic role of biosphere reserves in the region.

Biosphere reserves are the only model within the UN-system that integrates the well-being of human populations with the conservation of nature” explained Flavia Schlegel. “The biosphere reserve designation is much more than a prestigious label: it is a real commitment and a long term engagement to enhance human-environment relations and to extend environmental sustainability to places around and beyond protected areas, through the generation of social benefits out of conservation practices and through education, training and local scientific research and promotion of green, sustainable economic activities.”

The meeting was an opportunity to celebrate two decades of successful cooperation and partnerships with ALECSO and the MAB National Committees in the Arab States. It also focused on the elaboration of a regional action plan for biosphere reserves in the region in accordance with the Lima Action Plan, which was launched last year at the World Congress of Biosphere Reserves in Peru. Speakers stressed the important role biosphere reserves can play to address present environmental, climatic and social challenges in the Arab region.

Dr. Djamel Djaballah, Coordinator of the Council of the Arab Ministers for Environment - League of Arab States, highlighted the cooperation opportunities between the Council and UNESCO in the framework of the Man and Biosphere programme. “I would like to take this opportunity to invite UNESCO to be a partner to the Council in following up the implementation of the international agreements related to Man and Biosphere based on the valuable technical experience of UNESCO in this field which will certainly benefit the Arab Member States,” said Dr. Djaballah.

During the meeting, the host country, Algeria, was nominated Chair of the ArabMAB network for the next two years. The ArabMAB meeting will be followed by a one-day workshop to discuss environmental governance and promote green economy initiatives.

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