Albay Honored as New UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the Philippines

The beautiful Province of Albay garnered the prestigious status of UNESCO Biosphere Reserve at the 28th session of the International Coordinating Council (ICC) of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program of UNESCO held in Lima, Peru on 18-19 March 2016.

“This means very much to the people and government of Albay,” said the Governor.
He highlighted that Albay is blessed with various terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, immense biodiversity, including endangered sea turtles and the whale shark, and is home to one of the most iconic symbols of the Philippines, Mount Mayon. “Local communities live in harmony with nature, and are imbued with a deep sense of respect and responsibility for the environment,” added Governor Salceda.

To enhance the conservation of Albay’s precious biodiversity and natural resources, Governor Salceda informed that terrestrial and marine buffer zones have been increased from 35,000 hectares to over 131,000 hectares. Also, protective measures for spawning grounds of endangered sea turtles have been put in place and strengthened.

UNESCO Biosphere Reserves are internationally recognized as models of sustainable development, which provide “living observatories” for implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change. Governor Salceda underscored that “sustainability is a way of life in Albay” in terms of promotion of sustainable fishing, agriculture, and tourism.

As a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Albay will join a select network of 670 sites in over 120 countries that contribute to protection of the environment and the sustainable use of natural resources with tangible impact on the lives of communities.

Albay is the third UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of the Philippines, together with Puerto Galera and Palawan, and the very first in Luzon. Not since 1990 has the Philippines acquired a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

“Rest assured that Albay will always be a champion of sustainable development and the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Program,” concluded Governor Salceda.

The Philippine delegation also included Dr. Reynaldo B. Vea, Chair of the Philippines’ UNESCO Science Committee and President of the Mapua Institute of Technology, Mr. Hendrik Garcia, Deputy Permanent Delegate of the Philippines to UNESCO from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Amelita Ortiz of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Mr. Freddie Blanco of the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines, and Atty. Caroline Sabio of the Province of Albay.