31.01.2018 - New York Office

MAB Youth committed to Sustainable Development


On 31 January 2018, In the context of the 2018 ECOSOC Youth Forum, UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme organized an event to showcase youth engagement in UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserves.

During the 2018 ECOSOC Youth Forum, UNESCO hosted a side event entitled “MAB Youth – Committed to Sustainable Development”. The event brought together four young delegates engaged in UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme through Biosphere Reserves in their respective countries.  Following up on the conversation held during the 2017 MAB Youth Forum, the event aimed at engaging participants with MAB Youth representatives, and sharing experiences related to youth engagement in sustainable development actions.

Launched in 1971, the MAB Program strives to develop solutions for the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable development in biosphere reserves around the world.  Mr. Vincent Van Ryssegem from UNESCO outlined the programmes engagement with youth focusing in particular on the key messages resulting from the 2017 MAB Youth Forum: the importance of creating employment opportunities, spreading knowledge and awareness of biosphere reserves, developing partnerships with educational institutions, facilitating funds for youth projects, and improving communication with young people at all levels.

The session proceeded with individual interventions from the four young delegates, Ms. Erin Griffin (USA), Ms. Chiara Marchina (Italy), Mr. Diego Aguirre Gonzalez (Ecuador) and Mr. Simon Veberic (Slovenia), who summarized their actions in their respective biosphere reserves highlighting the challenges and opportunities that they face. Ms. Griffin spoke about the Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve in the USA, which continually faces pressures such as decreasing snow cover, resource damages and fossil fuel dependency. She discussed how these challenges have driven the young people to organize and advocate for tangible solutions and progress through local projects.

Ms. Marchina talked about the Po Delta Biosphere Reserve in Italy, highlighting how anthropogenic factors are modifying geochemical processes in this environment. She outlined how the lack of a clear environmental policy framework is threatening the economic and environmental stability of the area. 

Mr. Gonzalez presented the Bosque Seco Biosphere Reserve in Ecuador, which is facing threats of water scarcity, climate change, deforestation and unsustainable agricultural activities.  He highlighted how to address these problems, local municipalities have come together to enhance food sovereignty in rural areas, improve environmental management and promote solidarity practices.

Lastly, Mr. Veberic spoke about the Mura-Drava-Danube Biosphere Reserve, or
the “Amazon of Europe” in Slovenia. He emphasized how economic sustainability and economic development are the drivers necessary to achieve SDG 6, 11, 12 and 15 for this reserve.  He also pointed out that one effective way to achieve these goals is to create sustainable and attractive jobs for youth in the sustainable development field.

­In the interactive discussion that followed, participants raised points and questions about ways to engage youth in urban areas in environmental conservation initiatives, as well as increase regional government involvement with youth activities. Overall, the session enabled meaningful engagement between the delegates and participants, and reinforced the importance of involving youth in decision making processes. By getting involved in local projects in Biosphere Reserves, young people can become ambassadors for sustainable development in their respective countries. 


For more information on UNESCO’s MAB Programme, please visit the links below:

UNESCO’s “Man and Biosphere” Programme

MAB Youth Forum

UNESCO Biosphere Reserves: Learning Sites for Sustainable Development

World Network of Biosphere Reserves Map Brochure

2018 ECOSOC Youth Forum

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