15.01.2019 - UNESCO Office in Venice

Biosphere Reserves: a balance between Man and Nature

Somma Vesuvio e Miglio d‘Oro biosphere reserve

The first national Italian MAB biosphere reserve meeting titled “Biosphere Reserves: a balance between Man and Nature” was held on 8-10 November 2018 at the Somma-Vesuvio and Miglio d’Oro site. Organised by the Ministry for Environment, Land and Sea Protection of Italy and the MAB National Committee of Italy, the event brought together all MAB stakeholders at the national level for the first time. This included national and local governments, universities, research institutions and the private sector, biosphere reserve managers from the 17 Italian biosphere reserves and UNESCO, through its Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe.

The World Network of Biosphere Reserves of the UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) consists of a dynamic and interactive network of sites of excellence, promoting North-South and South-South collaboration. It fosters the integration of people and nature for sustainable development through participatory dialogue, knowledge sharing, poverty reduction and human well-being, and respect for cultural values. It promotes society’s ability to cope with change - thus contributing to the sustainable development goals.

With one of the largest number of biosphere reserves in Europe, Italy continues to add sites rapidly; in particular, 9 new biosphere reserves were included in the network in the last 6 years. This growing network of biosphere reserves has a key role to play as it fosters synergies and facilitates cooperation and joint projects among Italian biosphere reserves.

On the first day of the meeting, the technical MAB Committee met and functions of MAB biosphere reserves were discussed in working sessions entitled: Conservation - Landscape and nature. Balance between man and the protection of the environment, Development - quality production, rural tourism and sustainable development; and, Logistical support - research, training and monitoring. Synergies between national and international policies.

The second day was dedicated to an international symposium with representatives from UNESCO, the Italian National Commission for UNESCO as well as from the national and local governments. In the opening, Jonathan Baker, head of the science unit of the UNESCO Regional Bureau noted that “‘Italy clearly has one of the richest and most diverse network of biosphere reserves in the region; it has played and can play an important role in promoting best practices in Europe and in South East Europe and the Mediterranean area in particular.” Biosphere reserves are an interesting tool for countries aimed at achieving the 2030 Agenda  for Sustainable Development and the sustainable development goals, as they can act as sites to promote sustainable development in territories and with local communities.

Jonathan Baker underscored that the Italian network of biosphere reserves is key in coordinating the work of the 17 biosphere reserves within Italy.  Areas of work highlighted included youth involvement (following the 2017 MAB Youth Forum committed to sustainable development and the creation of MAB Youth Camps) and the importance of food in Italian biosphere reserves territories (such as the contest for the best km 0 - locally produced food - restaurants in Italian biosphere reserves).

Maria Carmela Giarratano, Director General of Protected Areas within the Ministry for Environment, Land and Sea Protection and head of the Italian MAB National Committee, highlighted: “UNESCO biosphere reserves in the sustainable management of territories are of high importance, taking into account not only environmental but also economic and social aspects.” She underlined the importance of better communication about biosphere reserves within the territories and local communities to ensure that the benefits of being part of a biosphere reserve clearly be understood by all stakeholders.  “I call on the Italian MAB community to play an active role in promoting Italian MAB best practices in the region, notably in the next EUROMAB scheduled in Dublin in April 2019.”, she concluded.

Besides the technical workshops and discussions on examples of best practices within Italian biosphere reserves, UNESCO MAB certificates were awarded to representatives of the newly established biosphere reserves Valle Camonica-Alto Sebino and Monte Peglia. The meeting closed with a visit of the Somma Sesuvio e Miglio d‘Oro biosphere reserve, including the slopes of the active volcano Vesuvius, which is famous for its eruption in AD 79 that, engulfed the town of Pompeii.

Website : https://www.parconazionaledelvesuvio.it/

Link: www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/environment/ecological-sciences/biosphere-reserves/europe-north-america/italy/somma-vesuvio-and-miglio-doro/

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