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30.05.2018 - Natural Sciences Sector

Islands and coastal biosphere reserves agree to share more experiences and data to improve management

Participants to the 8th Meeting of the World Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves, Menorca, Spain from 22 to 26 May 2018; © UNESCO

Representatives from 43 biosphere reserves from 32 countries met in Menorca, Spain from 22 to 26 May 2018 to celebrate the 8th Meeting of the World Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves.

The Network currently covers more than 70 island and coastal biosphere reserves, equivalent to 10% of the biosphere reserves worldwide. Despite the different characteristics, situation and dimensions, these sites share a vulnerability to the effects of climate change, among other common challenges such as limited space, the concentration of world population in coastal territories and waste management.

During the congress, the different biosphere reserves presented these challenges, but also the opportunities and actions that they are carrying out on issues of ecosystem conservation, improvement of quality of life of the local population, research and sustainable tourism, among others.

The participants worked on the work plan for the next four years based on the framework document proposed by the Biosphere Reserves of Menorca (Spain) and Jeju (Republic of Korea). All the proposals point to the idea of exchanging information, streamlining communication and sharing documentation and experiences to improve the management in each of the territories that make up the Network.

The Network tries to give greater impetus to the development of a shared database, which should include indicators such as geographic, administrative and management, geo-environmental and socioeconomic data, and information on environmental sectors such as water, energy and resources. This easy-to-use database will allow the follow-up of basic parameters and will form the starting point for the development of monitoring indicators.
The six areas of action presented are based on this common denominator in order to meet the general objectives of the Network aimed at promoting sustainable development in islands and coastal areas, as well as promoting strategies for adaptation and mitigation against climate change.

Funding was one of the key issues raised by participants to implement the work plan. The Network will work to diversify the sources for the group's activities through the promotion of sponsorship and collaboration agreements with both public and private entities, although the generation of resources by the participating biosphere reserves is also expected.
In order to boost the work of the Network, in 2017 a memorandum of understanding was signed between UNESCO, the Autonomous Authority for National Parks (OAPN) of Spain, the MAB Committee of the Republic of Korea, the Insular Council of Menorca and the Government of Jeju Island. The Network has two technical secretariats that work together: the office on the island of Jeju, which focuses on issues related to climate change, and the office in Menorca dedicated to sustainable development.

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