40 already? Preparations for MAB's fortieth anniversary
Preliminary proposals for the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Programme on Man and the Biosphere (MAB)
At the twenty-second session of the MAB International Coordinating Council (ICC-MAB), held at UNESCO Headquarters from 31 May to 4 June 2010, several Member States and observers announced that they intended to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the MAB Programme in 2011 and to do so, if possible, in a concerted and coordinated manner worldwide.
Events may be held to mark the fortieth anniversary of the MAB Programme locally (that is, in a biosphere reserve), nationally or regionally (regional and thematic networks) and may also afford opportunities to celebrate partnerships and establish new ones.
At the last ICC-MAB session, consideration was given to the possibility of organizing or initiating at its twenty-third session, to be held in Dresden (Germany) in June 2011, of a world event, in particular a MAB Programme day or a world biosphere reserve day. The day could be observed during the 36th session of the General Conference of UNESCO, scheduled for October 2011.
The purpose of this note is to make specific proposals that most countries could carry out from the local to the international levels to mark the fortieth anniversary in 2011.
The celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the MAB Programme might afford the opportunity to:
- conduct an assessment and disseminate the findings within the MAB community (40 already!);
- highlight the value of 40 years of research, experience and practice (40 solutions for sustainable development) to be shared and disseminated both within and outside the MAB community and UNESCO;
- mobilize at least 40 biosphere reserves to demonstrate the unique value and strength of the world network (40 interacting biosphere reserves);
- celebrate or mobilize key partnerships for the MAB Programme (celebrating 40 cooperation projects and partnerships);
- look to the future and propose 40 activities to be carried out in the next 10 years (40 commitments for the future);
- showcase the accomplishments of 40 biosphere reserves (posters, photo exhibitions, films, documentaries) during the UNESCO General Conference (MAB at UNESCO – 40 years on).
The 40 years of experience gained under the MAB Programme must be turned to good account and emphasis must be laid on the value of the achievements of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) – 564 sites in 109 countries in 2010.
As a first step, information on initiatives and activities planned in various countries and regional networks in 2011 could be collated in order to highlight those activities internationally, in particular through UNESCO’s website and those of its partners. An international calendar of celebrations could thus be drawn up and distributed within the World Network of Biosphere Reserves and through the MAB Programme.
Secondly, the extent to which some initiatives could be combined to take place during the same period in order to give the activities a higher profile and increase their media coverage should be examined. For instance, the idea of instituting a special biosphere reserve day would enable countries and sites to celebrate the 40th anniversary together and at the same time. A world MAB day or a world biosphere reserve day could be designated in a decision adopted by the International Coordinating Council in June 2011 and could be observed during the 36th session of the General Conference (October 2011). It would therefore be judicious to find out right now whether States Members of UNESCO are agreeable to the idea so that countries could be so informed as soon as possible and make allowance for it when planning their activities. If a majority of Member States consider this option feasible and desirable, then world MAB day or world biosphere reserve day could be announced officially in Dresden (Germany) in June 2011.
The Secretariat could also send out a circular letter so that it could compile a list of planned activities and invite countries to contribute to an international campaign, “40 already? MAB celebrates its fortieth anniversary”.
The high point of the campaign would be the 2011 World MAB day or world biosphere reserve day, showcasing accomplishments and commending persons and teams working in the reserves and linking them together internationally.
Lastly, on the strength of all of these inputs, the MAB Programme and the World Network of Biosphere Reserves will contribute in a structured and coherent manner to the Rio+20 Conference – the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, scheduled in 2012.
- Secretariat to send the preliminary proposals to UNESCO Member States and biosphere reserves to compile a list of activities (and dates) planned to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the MAB Programme (the deadline for replies being the end of January 2011). Member States, MAB National Committees and biosphere reserves will be requested to submit a list of their contributions to the points mentioned above (solutions, partners, commitments, etc.) in order to determine whether this approach is supported internationally and whether the number 40 could be the keynote of the celebration (40 solutions for sustainable development, 40 interacting biosphere reserves, 40 partnerships and so on).
- Inclusion in the provisional agenda and timetable of the twenty-third session of the International Coordinating Council of the MAB Programme of an item on the celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the MAB Programme, under which ICC-MAB could designate one day in 2011 to mark the fortieth anniversary of the MAB Programme, to be named world MAB day or world biosphere reserve day and celebrated worldwide (possibly during the 36th session of the General Conference).
Websites of UNESCO, MAB National Committees, biosphere reserves and partners. (The UNESCO home page could be a portal for a rotating selection of 40 websites during the session of the International Coordinating Council of the MAB Programme in June 2011 and on the world day during the General Conference.)
International distribution of “Biosphere, Tomorrow is Now!”, a 52-minute documentary produced by Biosphère Télévision in Canada, in cooperation with UNESCO-MAB (English and French).
Calls for contributions to the production of three-minute YouTube videos on 40 biosphere reserves, to mark the fortieth anniversary of the MAB programme.
Calls for quality photographs to prepare a slideshow on 40 biosphere reserves.
Use the pilot MAB community platform to connect 40 biosphere reserves online.
Regional and thematic network meetings scheduled for 2011 (NordMAB Network in February, EuroMAB Network in July and so on).
Call for contributions from Member States to the design of a new MAB logo, or special MAB logo for the fortieth anniversary (competition; the jury will comprise members of the ICC – MAB Bureau, in conjunction with the Sector for External Relations and Public Information (ERI)).
Special coverage in the UNESCO Courrier and other international, multilingual periodicals.
Mobilization of country biosphere reserve ambassadors such as in France and Sweden.
Available and future resources
- An RFI journalist seconded to the Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences between 1 March and 31 August 2011 will develop the UNESCO MAB website, produce radio content and draft online articles as a part of the fortieth anniversary celebrations. (approved)
- Contributions from Member States and biosphere reserves (work under way in many countries).
- Search for sponsors and extrabudgetary resources for specific activities.
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