12.03.2013 - UNESCO Office in Venice

Education for Sustainable Development in Biosphere Reserves and other Designated Areas: A Resource Book for Educators in South-Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean

© UNESCO/Resource Book cover

Just released. This 258-page illustrated Resource Book is the result of a large team work that has the ambition to effectively promote Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in the field and in particular in Biosphere Reserves (BRs) of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme of UNESCO, as well as in other designated areas that share some fundamental features with MAB BRs. The combination with attempts to get a “win-win” result is: ESD can be well developed and demonstrated in such areas while ESD activities extended beyond the schooling system bring substance, interest and support to the management and protection of Biosphere Reserves.

The history of this publication goes back to 2008 - when the first material on ESD in Protected Areas was produced in Greece by the Mediterranean Information Office for Environment, Culture and Sustainable Development (MIO-ECSDE). The UNESCO Venice Office expressed its interest in supporting its adaptation in order to address the needs of ESD educators from other South Eastern European and Mediterranean countries. This was made out of the conviction that Biosphere Reserves are sites where sustainable development is being implemented in practice. Designated areas with a similar type of national or international status are not so many and are privileged places where innovative ESD approaches should be developed and tested in favour of multiple audiences.

ESD is an innovative type of education that incorporates the economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainability, challenging the prevailing current economic development models that have led, on the one hand, to the global economic crisis and, on the other, to complex global and local environmental problems such as resources depletion, climate change, biodiversity loss, etc. Addressing such issues with the interdisciplinary, holistic and comprehensible approach of ESD is a key principle applied for the development of the current training material.

The key message UNESCO wanted to convey on the occasion of the recently held Rio+20 Conference (June 2012) is that ESD will continue to play a crucial role in empowering citizens to achieve the transition towards more sustainable and equitable societies, paying equal attention to the environmental, economic and social pillars of sustainable development. Addressing such interlinked challenges with the interdisciplinary and holistic approach to ESD is the key principle which inspired the elaboration of the present resource book.

In leading the implementation of the UN Decade on Education for Sustainable Development, UNESCO can count on important assets, among which the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, developed within the framework of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, occupies a privileged place. Fulfilling their three main functions, Biosphere Reserves are in fact sites specially equipped to assure biodiversity conservation, to promote sustainable forms of development for the benefit of local communities and to support research, monitoring, training and educational efforts.

The present resource book aims to increase the capacities of those trainers and educators seeking to design and implement innovative educational projects, using Biosphere Reserves and other designated areas as authentic “ESD laboratories”. 

·         UNESDOC link : Education for Sustainable Development in Biosphere Reserves and other Designated Areas: A Resource Book for Educators in South-Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean Publ: 2013; 258 p., illus.*.

·         Education for Sustainable Development Training Material: http://www.mio-ecsde.org/protarea/


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