Lima, 18 March—The 4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves ended on 17 March in the capital city of Peru with the adoption of a Declaration and a new ten-year Action Plan for UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme and its World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
The Lima Declaration was adopted by consensus by some 1,000 participants attending the Congress. It sets out to promote synergies between Biosphere Reserves and the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the Agreement on Climate Change, adopted in Paris in late 2015.
The text recommends a “wider and more active role” for local communities in the management of the reserves and the establishment of “new partnerships between science and policy, between national and local governance, public and private sector actors.” It also calls for greater involvement of citizen groups and organizations, notably indigenous and youth communities and stresses the need for collaboration with scientific institutions such as universities and research centres.
The World Network of Biosphere Reserves presently numbers 651 sites in 120 countries. These are sites of global importance to both biological and cultural diversity and, together, they represent an almost full range of the planet’s ecosystems. The Lima Declaration expresses the commitment to “identify and designate one biosphere reserve in each state that had not established one yet.”
“Biosphere reserves provide the United Nations with a unique model for the hands-on realization of sustainable development,” declared Flavia Schlegel, Assistant UNESCO Director-General for Natural Science. “The Declaration and action plan that have just been adopted provide us with a framework that concerns all actors involved in the management of biosphere reserves: states, local authorities, indigenous communities, youth and the private sector.”
The Declaration and Action Plan were developed over four days in some 20 workshops held during the World Congress, organized by UNESCO in cooperation with Peru’s Ministry of the Environment (MINAM) and its National Service of Natural Areas Protected by the State (SERNANP). It was the first World Congress outside Europe. It also featured 13 side events, which showcased the role of biosphere reserves as testing grounds in the fight against climate change and for environmental Education, sustainable tourism for economic development, and cooperation with local communities.
Still in Lima, the International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme will hold its next session 18 and 19 March. It will examine applications for the addition of new biosphere reserves and extensions to existing ones. A total of 32 candidacies from 23 countries will be examined: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Ghana, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Spain, Tanzania and the United Kingdom.
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*** Secretary General of the National Commission For UNESCO, Mr. Antonio Maynard represented the Federation of St. Christopher and Nevis at the event.