16.07.2015 - UNESCO Venice Office

UNESCO to EXPO 2015 encourages Biosphere Reserves to work towards a network of sustainability

UNESCO/Marco Branchi, The Appennino Tosco-Emiliano Biosphere Reserve, Italy

Biosphere Reserves from Italy and beyond came together at a meeting organized by the Italian Ministry of Environment and the Protection of Land and Sea in close cooperation with the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, Venice (Italy). The event, which took place on 20 June 2015 at the Centre of the Earth - Biodiversity Park at EXPO Milano 2015, was accompanied by the launch of the “Behind Food Sustainability” video produced by the UNESCO Venice Office.

The meeting heralded a renewed communication drive by the Man and Biosphere (MAB) Network, Biosphere Reserves in Italy and invited UNESCO sites from Austria, France, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland -, demonstrating its ability to address crucial societal issues such as sustainable development and food security and respect for the environmental constraints and cultural assets of the territories in question. The sites also demonstrated their potential to be “models” for innovation in territorial governance far beyond their borders.

The event followed the decision in June by the International Coordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme to add 3 new Italian sites to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR). The cooperation between UNESCO, the Italian Ministry of the Environment and the Protection of Land and Sea and the UNESCO designated areas – World Heritage sites and Biosphere Reserves – represented an opportunity to open multiple channels of communication on development and sustainability issues.

It was opened by the representatives of the Italian Ministry of Environment and the Protection of Land and Sea and by Han Qunli, Director, Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences, and Secretary of the MAB Programme, who stressed the importance of the new Italian Reserves recently included in the Network, not only in terms of biodiversity conservation but also for their contribution to the promotion of sustainable development, with a particular focus on traditional knowledge, production and food.

Philippe Pypaert, coordinator of the Science Unit at the UNESCO Venice Office, moderated the first session of the afternoon, titled “Behind Food Sustainability”, title of the exhibition which is on display at Palazzo Zorzi until 31 October. Organised as part of ‘Venice to EXPO 2015’, the exhibition asks visitors to think about the important role of cultural and natural heritage and community participation in achieving food sustainability, in line with the EXPO 2015 theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”.

The “Behind Food Sustainability” video was shown as part of the presentation and various experiences were presented, mainly through brief videos, from the following Biosphere Reserves: Coastal Systems, wetlands and deltas: Po Delta (Italy), Camargue (France) and Selva Pisana (Italy); Vulnerable landscapes: Ticino Valley (Italy), Wienerwald (Austria), Circeo (Italy); and, Transboundary cooperation: Monviso/Queyras (Italy/France).

The “Behind Food Sustainability” exhibition, together with other ‘Venice to EXPO 2015’ initiatives has paved the way for a more active participation of Italian UNESCO sites in EXPO 2015. In coming months, the exhibition will be shown in Venice and in other UNESCO designated sites in the Veneto and further afield in Italy. These include: Padua Botanical Garden, Po Delta, Dolomiti, Alpi di Ledro – Giudicarie, Circeo, Sila. The first Italian copy of the exhibition was inaugurated on 10 July in the Appennino Tosco-Emiliano Park. 


As well as contributing to the United Nations’ participation in Milan, “The Zero Hunger Challenge – United for a Sustainable World”, UNESCO is taking part in the Venice to EXPO 2015 initiative with a broad programme of events in and around Venice and in UNESCO sites and territories throughout Italy.

UNESCO’s contribution to EXPO 2015 was made possible by the generous support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, Venice (Italy).

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