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UNESCO Man & 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 proposes interdisciplinary research, demonstration and training in natural resources management.

Biosphere reserves are sites established by countries and recognized under UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme to promote sustainable development based on local community efforts and sound science.

As places that seek to reconcile conservation of biological and cultural diversity and economic and social development through partnerships between people and nature, they are ideal to test and demonstrate innovative approaches to sustainable development from local to international scales.  

Biosphere reserves are thus globally considered as:

  • sites of excellence where new and optimal practices to manage nature and human activities are tested and demonstrated
  • tools to help countries implement the results of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and, in particular, the Convention on Biological Diversity and its Ecosystem Approach
  • learning sites for the UN Decade on Education for Sustainable Development.

After their designation, biosphere reserves remain under national sovereign jurisdiction, yet they share their experience and ideas nationally, regionally and internationally within the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR).

There are currently 621 biosphere reserves in 117 countries, including 12 transboundary sites.

For more information on the Man and the Biosphere Programme, click here

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