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Biosphere Reserves - Why They Matter

Climate Change World Biosphere Reserve Congress

17.03.2016 - The 4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves: A New Vision for the Decade 2016-2025 comes to an end on March 17.

The Congress took place in Lima, Peru from 14-17 March to address issues such as education for sustainable development, the economic viability of nature conservation systems, biodiversity, and the protection and sustainable use of natural resources. All of which are essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

During the Congress, experts discussed progress and obstacles related to biosphere reserve issues to develop a new vision for the future.

UNESCO Biosphere Reserves for Sustainable Development involves all National Committees of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme and experts directly involved in the practical implementation of biosphere reserves and includes representatives of governments, local communities, UN agencies, NGOs, academic institutions, and organizations from all over the world working with the MAB Programme.

What is the Man and the Biosphere Programme?

• Launched in 1971, UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) is an Intergovernmental Scientific Programme that aims to establish a scientific basis for the improvement of relationships between people and their environments.

• It predicts the consequences of today’s actions on tomorrow’s world and thereby increases people’s ability to efficiently manage natural resources for the well-being of both human populations and the environment.

• MAB combines the natural and social sciences, economics and education to improve human livelihoods and the equitable sharing of benefits, thus promoting innovative approaches to economic development that are socially and culturally appropriate, and environmentally sustainable.

• Its World Network of Biosphere Reserves currently counts 651 biosphere reserves in 120 countries all over the world.

What does MAB do?

The UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme functions as a Global Observatory for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation. It adds value to the fight against climate change by promoting integrated monitoring, multidisciplinary approaches and participatory activities supporting climate change management and for field learning on climate change impacts and related solutions.

Its work engages with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and addresses challenges linked to scientific, environmental, and societal and development issues in diverse ecosystems, ranging from mountain regions to tropical forests, drylands, urban environments and marine, coastal and island areas.

The three main objectives of the 4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves were:

1. To review of the implementation of the Madrid Action Plan for Biosphere Reserves 2008-2013, the Seville Strategy and the Statutory Framework of 1995.

2. To assess the lessons learned and the new challenges to be faced by the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

3. To develop and launch an Action Plan for Biosphere Reserves for 2016-2025.

As a result of the papers presented at the Congress and the contributions of participants, the following outcomes are expected:

- The Lima Declaration

- The Lima Action Plan of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves for 2016-2025.

Upcoming Related UN Observances:

21 March 2016 International Day of Forests

22 March 2016 World Water Day

23 March World Meteorological Day


UNRICs Related Links

· UNESCO: Changing Minds, not the Climate

· 4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves

· Sustainable Development Goals

· Science for a Sustainable Future 

Photo Credit: ECOSOC/Morten T. Leth

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