New Po Delta Biosphere Reserve and other designated sites in Italy contribute to Venice to EXPO 2015

The International Co-ordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) has added 20 new sites to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, bringing their total number to 651 sites, including 15 transboundary sites, in 120 countries. The Po Delta is one of 3 sites in Italy, along with The Ledro Alps and Judicaria and Appennino Tosco-Emiliano, to have been added on this occasion.

The Po Delta reserve is worthy of special attention. It covers an area of 139,398 hectares in northern Italy and is home to 120,000 people living in 16 municipalities. The plain along which it extends is produced by the Po river and by recent human activity. The site, Italy’s only delta, represents an exceptional heritage of biodiversity due to its range of habitats. Tourism, agriculture and fish farming are the main economic activities. The richness of stunning landscapes, natural heritage, architecture and urban settlements of the Delta area presented an opportunity for the two regions, Emilia-Romagna and Veneto, which share this territory, to submit its nomination for the MAB Network of Biosphere Reserves.

 “The decision to add the Po Delta to UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves recognises […] the high natural value of the area, helping to safeguard a landscape that is unique in Italy and to promote sustainable development. This is reflected in the number of tourists visiting the area and the promotion of a territory whose image can benefit Rovigo and the whole Veneto” said Antonio Finotti, president of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Padova e Rovigo (CARIPARO) that, along with the Ente Parco Delta del Po, provided support for the nomination.

The UNESCO Venice Office gave its full support to the nomination, with a view to conserving important natural and historical assets, but also to developing and implementing projects to create sustainable development pathways for the Po Delta territory benefiting its population and its main socio-economic actors. The project “The Po Delta Towards Expo 2015: Man - Nature - Development” was conceived with this purpose.

As part of the Venice to EXPO 2015 programme, the UNESCO Venice Office is organising a series of activities centring on the “Behind Food Sustainability” exhibition, the new Po Delta Biosphere Reserve and a number of important territories and UNESCO sites throughout Italy.

19 June will mark the launch of the “Un Po di Storie” interactive installation and the “Delta del Po” App at the Conference Centre in Rosolina Mare: events organised by the UNESCO Venice Office and the ‘Centro Civiltà dell’Acqua Onlus’ with the support of the Fondazione CARIPARO. The aim is to encourage greater public interest on a topic which is of huge historical value but which also holds great potential for sustainable development in rural areas: navigation on inland rivers and lagoons. The specially designed ‘Delta Po’ App for smartphones and tablets will allow visitors to further explore the delta landscape.

On 20 June, Biosphere Reserves from around Italy – including Po Delta – will come together in the Theatre at the Centre of the Earth - Biodiversity Park at EXPO Milano 2015, for an event organized by the Directorate for the Protection of Nature and Sea at the Italian Ministry of the Environment and the Protection of Land and Sea in collaboration with the UNESCO Venice Office.  Participants will discuss the themes explored in the “Behind Food Sustainability” exhibition. The exhibition video will be shown, and will remain on display in Milan until the end of October.

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As well as contributing to the United Nations’ participation in Milan, “The Zero Hunger Challenge – United for a Sustainable World”, UNESCO will take part in the Venice to EXPO 2015 initiative with a broad programme of events in and around Venice and in UNESCO sites and territories throughout Italy.

UNESCO’s contribution to EXPO 2015 was made possible by the generous support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, Venice (Italy).