IN FOCUS 2016

UNESCO Biosphere Excursion: Learning experience for young environmentalists from Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates

The group of participants together with experts from the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi on Bu Tinah Island within the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Marawah ©Sami Majeed

The second part of the first UNESCO Biosphere Excursion, a binational programme in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Ethiopia, took place in April 2016. A group of sixteen inspired students and young professionals from Ethiopia and the UAE met on 6 April for an excursion to protected areas in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Fujairah and Sharjah. The same group had previously travelled to Ethiopia in November 2015 to learn about environmental management issues in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserves of Kafa and Lake Tana.

DRC situates the Lima Action Plan in a countrywide context and adopts a 2016-2025 National Action Plan

Democratic Republic of Congo adopts a 2016-2025 National Action Plan for its biosphere reserves. © UNESCO

The UNESCO Office in Kinshasa in partnership with the National Commission for UNESCO of the Democratic Republic of the Congo organized a workshop on the situation of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme in the DRC.The workshop was held under the patronage of the Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Sustainable Development (MECNDD), which oversees the MAB DRC National Committee.

Based on this evaluation, assistants used a participatory approach to develop a National Action Plan. The DRC is one of the first countries to develop a National Action Plan based on the overall guidance of the Lima Action Plan and the results of the AfriMAB regional workshop, which took place on 15 March 2016 during the Lima Congress.

20 sites added to UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves

© UNESCO

The International Co-ordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere Programme  added 20 sites to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves during its meeting in Lima, Peru on 18 and 19 March. The newly adopted sites include 18 national site and one transboundary site shared between Spain and Portugal. The Council also approved 9 extensions to existing Biosphere Reserves. Following the withdrawal of two sites at the request of Austria, this brings the total number of biosphere reserves to 669 sites in 120 countries, including 16 transboundary sites.

Logo of the 4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves.

From 14 to 17 March 2016 the 4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves will take in Lima, Peru. It will bring together more than 1,000 experts who will determine a ten-year roadmap for UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme. 

IN FOCUS 2015

MAB-BIRUP Workshop: Promoting Green Economies in Biosphere Reserves

©UNESCO/ Hans Thulstrup
MAB-BIRUP Workshop 2015

Bringing together experts, managers and entrepreneurs from Biosphere Reserves and other UNESCO sites around the world, UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, CHIC Group and UNESCO Beijing Office hosted a three-day workshop during 14-16 December 2015 in Shanghai, China, in order to promote green economies in biosphere reserves through certification, labeling and branding.

Gathering 39 participants from 14 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America, the MAB-BIRUP Workshop served as a platform for Biosphere Reserve experts, site managers, as well as public and private partner organizations including certification bodies and NGOs, to discuss biodiversity conservation, green economies, and sustainable development.

UNESCO Biosphere Excursion: Making use of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves as platforms for environmental education and cultural exchange

©Maria Hänsel/ UNESCO
participants UNESCO Biosphere Excursion in Ethiopia

The goal of the UNESCO Biosphere Excursion Programme is to offer an in-depth understanding of the challenges and solutions of environmental management through first-hand experiences. In Ethiopia, participants had the chance to visit project sites with environmental NGOs and government representatives, and to discuss possible solutions to deforestation and promoting tourism.

Small research assignments in groups covering topics such as wetland management and tourism development enabled close interaction with the concerned local communities in each biosphere reserve. Additionally, training sessions with local and national experts were held to ensure a more detailed understanding of efforts towards environmental protection and options for livelihood improvement in Ethiopia.

AfriMAB: Aligning the MAB Strategy to the Sustainable Development Goals 2015–2030’

© UNESCO/Sheila Ashong
4th General Assembly of the African Network of Biosphere Reserves

The 4th Session of the General Assembly of the African Network of Biosphere Reserves (AfriMAB) of the Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme was hosted by the Ghana MAB National Committee in Accra from 24 to 27 November 2015 under the theme ‘AfriMAB: Aligning the MAB Strategy (2015–2025) to the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs (2015–2030)’. Participants from twenty-one Member States attended the assembly including representatives UNESCO, the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

Deadline for submission of application forms for 2016 Michel Batisse Award extended

© UNESCO/ Alberto Hernandez
2015 Michel Batisse Award winner Bandi Namkhai

The deadline for submission of application forms for 2016 Michel Batisse Award is extended to 31st December 2015.

Case studies must be submitted each year during which a MAB-ICC session is due to be convened. All case studies must be submitted through, and have the endorsement of, the respective MAB National Committees, and/or the UNESCO National Commissions of the country concerned.

  •     Title of the scheme: Michel Batisse Award for Biosphere Reserve Management
  •     Award amount: US$ 6,000 plus international travel and allowances in Paris, France, to present the award winning case study to the MAB-ICC session.
  •     Periodicity of awards: Every year at the time of the MAB-ICC
  •     Responsibility for technical review of proposals received and recommending the award winner for consideration and approval by the MAB Bureau: International Advisory Committee for Biosphere Reserves
  •     Language for submission of case studies: English and French
  •     Process for submitting applications: Each country can submit one case study on biosphere reserve management, not exceeding a maximum of 30 pages (20 pages recommended) and appropriately illustrated with scientific data, figures and tables, photographs and other supporting documentation.

More information: 2016 Michel Batisse Award

Team from University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, to receive 2015 UNESCO Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation

©UNESCO/ Sarah Colautti
Sultan Qabooz Prize 2015

Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, has named Fabio A. Kalesnik, Horacio Sirolli and Luciano Iribarren of the Wetlands Ecology Research Group of the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, as the laureates of this year’s UNESCO Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation for their outstanding achievements in support of environmental preservation.

The laureates were recommended by an international jury for their research on a wide range of ecological aspects of wetland ecosystems on different spatial and temporal scales in the Delta del Paraná, and for their critically valuable socio-environmental studies and environmental education and training initiatives.

The research and advocacy work of Mr Kalesnik, Mr Sirolli and Mr Iribarren have contributed to the establishment and management of the Delta del Paraná Biosphere Reserve of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme.

Established in the year 2000, the Delta del Paraná Biosphere Reserve is a coastal freshwater delta of the Parana River north of Buenos Aires. It is rich in biodiversity and is home to species that find their southernmost limit of distribution in the reserve.

Coinciding with the silver jubilee in 2014-2015 of the UNESCO Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation established 25 years ago through a generous donation by Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said of Oman, the laureates will share the US$70,000 Prize. The Laureates of the Prize, which is allocated every two years, will also receive a diploma and medal at a special ceremony at the World Science Forum in Budapest, Hungary, on 4 November.

MAB Survey on Biosphere Reserves and Climate Change

The MAB Programme is launching a short survey on Biosphere Reserves and Climate Change before COP21. More than 70 Biosphere Reserves have already responded, and we hope to have several more by 6 November!

Follow this link to fill in the survey: goo.gl/6N2Whj 

Network of Ibero-American and Caribbean MAB Committees meet in Spain

©Ignasi Fernandez
XVI IberoMAB meeting

The 16th meeting of the Ibero-American and Caribbean MAB Committees Network (IberoMAB) is taking place in Castellet I la Gornal, Barcelona, Spain, from 21 to 23 October 2015. The meeting is being organized by the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme of UNESCO, the Category II Centre for Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves under the auspices of UNESCO, and the Autonomous Organism for National Parks of the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

Representatives of IberoMAB countries will present the state of biosphere reserves in their different countries, including successful experiences, and discuss the new MAB strategy and the future of IberoMAB. The meeting will also focus on the contributions of IberoMAB to the 4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves, which will take place in Lima from 14 to 17 March 2016, as well as the Lima Action Plan.

East Asian Biosphere Reserve Network meets at the Shiga Highland Biosphere Reserve in Japan.

©Roman Jashenko
Group photo of the 14th EABRN meeting

The 14th meeting of the East Asian Biosphere Reserve Network (EABRN) took place from 6 to 9 October at the Shiga Highland Biosphere Reserve in Japan. The theme of the meeting was ‘Activities in the transition area and the role of local communities in managing biosphere reserves’. The meeting was organized by the Japanese National Commission for UNESCO, the Japanese National Committee for the MAB programme, the EABRN Secretariat of the UNESCO Office in Beijing and the Shiga Highland Biosphere Reserve.

The 14th meeting of the East Asian Biosphere Reserve Network (EABRN) was successfully concluded on 9 October 2015 at the Shiga Highland Biosphere Reserve, Japan. Under the theme of “Activities in the transition area and the role of local communities in managing biosphere reserves”, the meeting included a field evaluation of the host Biosphere Reserve as well as joint sessions with Japanese Biosphere Reserves Network (JBRN). Key outcomes of the meeting included the revision and updating of the EABRN Statutes, the identification of priorities for network activities over the coming decade, and the confirmation of EABRN’s presence at the 4th Biosphere Congress in Lima.

UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme revived in Nepal

© Mark John Jackson via Wikimedia Commons

A meeting on UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme took place on 22 September 2015 in Lalitpur, Nepal. Over 50 participants including academic experts, policy-makers and civil society discussed initiating the MAB Programme in Nepal and reviving the MAB Committee.

‘While there are no biosphere reserves yet in Nepal, MAB is not a completely new concept in the country’, said the UNESCO Representative to Nepal, Christian Manhart, in his opening remarks. ‘In 1983, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Research (ICIMOD) was established under the MAB Programme in Kathmandu’.

The Representative of the MAB Programme, Mr Miguel Clüsener-Godt, highlighted the benefits of biosphere reserves as tools for conservation, training and technology transfer. MAB branding attracts technical support and brings additional value to products and services, as well as increasing local communities’ pride in their biosphere reserves. He emphasized that further consultations about suitable biosphere reserve sites will follow.

MAB France rewards original sustainable development initiatives in biosphere reserves

©UNESCO
Trophées des Réserves de biosphère 2015

The French MAB National Committee and the Man and the Biosphere Programme presented this year's winners of the French Biosphere Reserve Trophies in a ceremony that took place at UNESCO Headquarter in Paris on Monday 21 September 2015.

The Biosphere Reserve Trophies rewards original initiatives carried out by local actors in the field of sustainable development in French biosphere reserves.  They encourage commitment to the sustainable management of natural resources, biodiversity, sustainable development and combatting climate change, and are accompanied by financial support.  The trophies promote the establishment of exchanges and partnerships between biosphere reserves and local actors to support their network organization.

The MAB France Trophies is a great opportunity to highlight positive and concrete action that are taking place in Biosphere Reserves.

Writing the future of the MAB Programme and the World Network of Biosphere Reserves

© UNESCO/Pilar Chiang-Joo
Meeting of the MAB Strategy Group

The MAB Strategy Group meets from 1-2 September 2015 in UNESCO Headquarters to work on the development of the new MAB Action Plan.

For over a year, the MAB Strategy Group has been working in cooperation with the MAB Secretariat on the development of a new Strategy and a new Action Plan that will guide the MAB Programme and the World Network of Biosphere Reserves in the period 2016-2025.

The  MAB Strategy 2015-2025  was adopted at the 27th Session of the MAB International Co-ordinating Council (ICC), June 2015, and it will be submitted to the 38th session of the UNESCO General Conference for endorsement in November 2015. The Action Plan should be adopted at the 28th MAB ICC session that will take place in conjunction with the 4th World Congress on Biosphere Reserves, Lima Peru, from 14 to 20 March 2016.

El Hierro Biosphere Reserve supplied for the first time exclusively with renewable energy

© Reserva de Biosfera El Hierro

On Sunday, 9 August 2015 at 12:00 pm, an important milestone was reached by the wind-hydro plant of Gorona del Viento. For the first time, it supplied the entire electricity demand of the Isla de El Hierro Biosphere Reserve (Spain) using renewable sources.

The President of the Island Government, Ms Belén Allende, said that this was a very important milestone for the Island of El Hierro, for the Canary Islands, Europe and the world, as it shows that it is possible for renewable energy sources to meet all of the requirements of the population and for the consumption of fossil fuels to be discontinued.

Enriching knowledge through exchanges between Haitian and Chilean biosphere reserves

© Municipalidad De Olmué, Chile.

In July 2015, representatives of the Haitian MAB National Committee met with the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF-Chile) in Chile, to learn about the management of Chilean biosphere reserves.

During their visit they explored the management models of La Campana - Peñuelas Biosphere Reserve, and discussed cooperation protocols, shared experiences and the possibility of strengthening capabilities between the two nations. This visit gave rise to new opportunities to exchange practices and seek benefits for both countries within the framework of South-South Cooperation.

This exchange was made possible by the contribution of the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AECID) to the MAB programme in Haiti.

New Network of Biosphere Reserves to promote the relationship between Mediterranean countries

Launch of the Network of Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves (RRBMed) in the Castle of Castellet in Barcelona, Spain. © Abertis Foundation

A total of sixty biosphere reserves from fourteen Mediterranean countries — Algeria, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Morocco, Montenegro, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Tunisia — have launched on 19 June 2015 at the UNESCO International Centre for Mediterranean Biosphere Reserve the Network of Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves (RRBMed).

The RRBMed aims to highlight the biosphere reserves of these fourteen countries through case materials, with a view to promoting their natural and cultural heritage, strengthening ties and sharing knowledge between the biosphere reserves, reinforcing north-south relations, and developing links between academia, civil society and business.

Twenty new sites added to UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves

© UNESCO/Daniele Soncin
The Po Delta biosphere reserve (Italy)

The International Co-ordinating Council of the MAB Programmehas added 20 new sites to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, bringing their total number to 651 sites, including 15 transboundary sites, in 120 countries.

Myanmar had its first biosphere reserve inscribed this year. These additions were made by the Council during a meeting taking place in Paris from 8 to 12 June.

MAB Council meets to designate new Biosphere Reserves and discuss new Strategy and Action Plan for the next ten years

© Kazakhstan MAB National Committee

The 27th Session of the International Co-ordinating Council (ICC) of the Man and Biosphere Programme (MAB) opened today at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. During the session (from 8 to 12 June) the MAB ICC will decide on the designation of new Biosphere Reserves in a total of 18 countries: Algeria, Argentina, Bolivia, China, Ethiopia, France, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Italy, Kazakhstan, Myanmar, Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, Portugal and Vietnam.

The International Coordinating Council will also discuss the new Strategy and Action Plan that will guide the MAB Programme and the World Network of Biosphere Reserves in the period 2015-2025.

International Meeting on Transboundary Biosphere Reserves in Europe

The management of Transboundary Biosphere Reserves (TBRs) is the main focus of the international meeting organized by the MAB National Committees of France and Germany, the Transboundary Vosges du Nord/ Pfälzerwald Biosphere Reserve, the MAB Secretariat and the UNESCO Venice Office in Vosges du Nord Biosphere Reserve (France), from 2 to 5 June 2015.

Fourteen TBRs have been designated by UNESCO in 23 countries in Europe, Africa and Latin America. TBRs provide a tool for common management and allow the establishment of cooperation projects on the management of socio-ecological systems over borders.

This meeting will provide the opportunity to discuss a broad range of issues on TBRs management and cooperation institutional mechanisms and governance and promotion, visibility and recognition outside    the UNESCO/MAB field.  

EuroMAB opens meeting in Estonia to discuss biosphere reserves: from heritage to sustainable innovation

EuroMAB Meeting 'Biosphere Reserves: from heritage to sustainable' innovation. ©Vindelälven Biosphere Reserve

EuroMAB – the largest and oldest of the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) networks, which includes European and North American countries – opened its 2015 meeting today in Haapsalu, Estonia. During the five-day meeting countries will discuss key issues around the new MAB Strategy (2015-2025) to be examined at the forthcoming 27th session of the MAB International Coordinating Council to take place in Paris in June 2015.

The participants will also examine the implementation of the MAB Exit Strategy and the preliminary results from the communication and branding EuroMAB project. The contribution of EuroMAB to the preparation of the World Congress of Biosphere Reserves (Lima, March 2016) will also constitute a main topic of discussion during this event.

Peru and the MAB Programme announce the 4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves

Logo of the 4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves.

The Ministry of Environment of Peru (MINAM) through its National Service of Natural Areas Protected by the State (SERNANP) and UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme jointly announce the 4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves, due to take place in Lima, Peru, on 14-17 March 2016.

The objective of this Congress is to review implementation of the Madrid Action Plan for Biosphere Reserves 2008-2013, the Seville Strategy and the Statutory Framework of 1995. The Congress will assess lessons learned and new challenges faced by the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, and will develop and launch an Action Plan for Biosphere Reserves for 2016-2025.

Biosphere Reserves, sustainable development opportunities for local communities

SERNANP/Workshop ‘Biosphere reserves, an opportunity to promote differentiated products and services’ (Lima, Peru, March 2015)

The Peruvian National Service of Protected Natural Areas (SERNANP), MAB and the German International Cooperation (GIZ) jointly organized with the suppor of the Spanish Autonomous Authority for National Parks (OAPN), the workshop ‘Biosphere reserves, an opportunity to promote differentiated products and services’, held in Lima from 11 to 13 March 2015. The workshop was attended by representatives of regional governments, mayors and producer associations of the four Peruvian biosphere reserves, as well as representatives of Colombian and Spanish biosphere reserves.

The Director of SERNANP, Mr Pedro Gamboa, stated that this event constituted a milestone on the long road the International Congress of Biosphere Reserves. The event, to be held in March 2016 in Peru, will serve as a platform to share successful conservation and sustainable development experiences from biosphere reserves in the region.

Applications for the UNESCO Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation are now open

© UNESCO Sultan Qaboos Award

The UNESCO Sultant Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation is awarded every second year for oustanding contributins by individuals, groups of individuals, institues or organizations in the field of environmental preservation. The prize consists of a diploma and a financial reward of US dollar 70,000, donated graciously by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said of Oman.

Candidatures should be presented in English or French. The deadline for submitting nominations for the 2015 Prize is 15 June 2015.

The Island of Principe Biosphere Reserve has been cleaned of 200,000 plastic bottles since the beginning of the ‘No Plastic’ campaign

© Principe Biosfera

In February 2014, the Island of Principe Biosphere Reserve (São Tome and Principe) and the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme launched an awareness and mobilization campaign entitled ‘No plastic: A small gesture in our hands’. The aim of the campaign is to reduce plastic waste and promote access to drinking water in the biosphere reserve.

After a year-long campaign, a total of 200,000 plastic bottles were removed, thirteen water fountains were established, and 6,000 reusable stainless steel ‘Principe Biosphere Bottles’ were distributed among the local population.

The Advisory Committee for Biosphere Reserves met to review submissions for new biosphere reserves

UNESCO/Clayson Lima

The International Advisory Committee for Biosphere Reserves, the primary scientific and technical Committee body advising the International Coordinating Council (ICC)of the MAB Programme and its World Network of Biosphere Reserves, met from 2 to 5 February 2015, at UNESCO Headquarters.

The international expert group reviewed submissions for new biosphere reserves, extensions to existing ones, periodic reviews of sites already included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR), as well as the functioning of the WNBR, in accordance with the Seville Strategy and the Statutory Framework for the WNBR and the Madrid Action Plan.

The Committee provided recommendations on the discussed matters to the MAB-ICC, which will meet at the UNESCO Headquarters, in Paris, France from 8 to 12 June 2015.

New promotional video about the Initiative ‘Mangroves and Sustainable Development’

El Manglar from Plan de Acción - CPPS on Vimeo.

As part of the Initiative on Mangroves and Sustainable Development, managed by the UNESCO Quito Office in partnership with the Permanent Commission for the South Pacific (CPPS) and Conservation International - Ecuador, a video has been prepared highlighting the key reasons for this joint initiative.

Mangroves are a unique ecosystem of great ecological value offering multiple ecosystem goods and services: coastal protection against sea erosion, water purification, contribution to climate change mitigation through carbon build-up, scenic beauty, habitat and shelter for molluscs species and fish hatchery, among others.

This initiative aims to promote the conservation and sustainable use of mangroves, to value these ecosystem goods and services, to address economic issues, and to emphasize the cultural, social and spiritual aspects of mangroves.

People and nature - better together!

People and nature - better together from futerra on Vimeo.

Biosphere reserves are places with a specific purpose: to find creative, effective ways for people and nature to thrive together. They serve as "living laboratories" for testing and demonstrating integrated management of land, water and biodiversity.

This film, produced by the EuroMAB network, tells the story of these places, and shows that a sustainable way of living is not only possible, but already happening.

People and nature - better together

Biosphere reserves are sites established by countries and recognized under UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme to promote sustainable development based on local community efforts and sound science. They are places with a specific purpose: to find creative, effective ways for people and nature to thrive together.

Produced by Futerra and funded by the Foundation des Cow Boy Fringuants (Canada), this film tells the story of biosphere reserves, and shows that a sustainable way of living is not only possible, but already happening.

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