Mobilizing biosphere reserves for field learning on climate change impacts and solutions

Building partnerships for climate change adapation in biosphere reserves
Thanks to MAB’s instrumental efforts, in August 2009, UNESCO, the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Volunteers signed a MoU to establish the ‘UN Collaborative Programme on Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change in Developing Countries’. The programme will fund community-based organizations in and around biosphere reserves, indigenous and community-conserved areas and other important ecosystems to develop and implement climate change adaptation projects.

Developing networks for climate change action
The ‘Global Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves Contributing to Action on Climate Change and Sustainable Development’ has been created in May 2009. The Network will promote research on climate change on island and coastal areas, policy development, local participation, business adaptation, and establishment of training center activities in response to climate change.

Establishing learning platforms for climate change monitoring, mitigation, and adaptation
A range of activities aimed at establishing the WNBR as an observatory and learning platform for climate change monitoring, mitigation, and adaptation are currently being explored. Notable examples include the Network of Sites of Excellence for the Sustainable Futures of the Congo Basin, and South-South cooperation on climate change in tropical forest basins.

Promoting Biosphere Reserve models for climate, development, and biodiversity
The UNESCO-MAB Africa Bio-Carbon (ABC) Initiative seeks to take advantage of opportunities to promote the development of local and regional strategies and models for bio-carbon sequestration projects in Africa.  Using the African sites in the WNBR as platforms for capacity building and demonstrating and propagating innovative sustainable practices, UNESCO-MAB’s ABC Initiative combines the climate change adaptation and mitigation goals of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the biodiversity conservation goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the poverty reduction and sustainable development targets of the Millennium Development Goals.

Strengthening climate change education through biosphere reserves
In the context of the Mesoamerican biosphere reserve network’s plans to address climate change, a UNESCO Chair in Biosphere Reserves and Mixed World Heritage Sites was established in 2009 as part of a platform of Chairs for Sustainable Development and Environmental Education in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Exploring the links between biodiversity and climate change
In Asia, MAB has begun a survey to identify needs and opportunities at biosphere reserves to demonstrate linkages between climate change adaptation/mitigation and biodiversity conservation. For example MAB has supported continued cooperation between the Pandjari Biosphere Reserve in Benin and the Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve in India to share climate change adaptation strategies.

Promoting local and regional climate change initiatives
Numerous biosphere reserves are involved in individual or regional climate change initiatives.  A few of many examples include the sale of carbon credits and hydrological services in the Sierra Gorda BR, Mexico; restoration of mangroves in Can Gio BR, Viet Nam and Delta du Saloum BR, Senegal; introduction of improved farming methods to reduce deforestation in Mananara Nord BR, Madagascar; and eco-job training for youths and the sale of carbon credits from the São Paulo Green Belt in the Mata Atlântica BR, Brazil.

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