International Co-ordinating Council (ICC) of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme

28th Session of the MAB International Co-ordinating Council (ICC) in Lima Peru, on 18-19 March 2016. © SERNANP

The MAB governing body, the International Co-ordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, usually referred to as the MAB Council or ICC, consists of 34 Member States elected by UNESCO's biennial General Conference. In between meetings, the authority of the ICC is delegated to its Bureau, whose members are nominated from each of UNESCO's geopolitical regions.

At each ordinary session of the UNESCO General Conference, normally held every two years, half of the Members of the Council end their terms of office and new Council members are elected. The outgoing members are replaced by members belonging to the same regional group. Council members can be re-elected.

How does it work?

In recent years, the MAB Council has met annually, usually at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris or in a MAB ICC Member State which offers to host the MAB Council. Although each Member State has only one vote, it can send as many experts or advisers as it wishes to the Council sessions. In addition, other Member States of UNESCO that are not members of the Council can send representatives as observers. UN Agencies such as UNEP, FAO, UNDP, WMO, WHO are also invited as well as representatives of the International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Social Sciences Council (ISSC) and the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

The role of the Council is:

  • to guide and supervise the MAB Programme;
  • to review the progress made in the implementation of the Programme (cf. Secretariat report and reports of MAB National Committees);
  • to recommend research projects to countries and to make proposals on the organization of regional or international cooperation;
  • to assess priorities among projects and MAB activities in general;
  • to co-ordinate the international cooperation of Member States participating in the MAB Programme;
  • to co-ordinate activities with other international scientific programmes; and
  • to consult with international non-governmental organizations on scientific or technical questions.

The MAB ICC also decides upon new biosphere reserves and takes note of recommendations on periodic review reports of biosphere reserves.

At its meetings, the Council elects a chairperson and five vice-chairpersons, of whom one functions as a rapporteur; these form the MAB Bureau.

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