On 50th anniversary of Man and the Biosphere Programme, UNESCO and the UN call for a new relationship with nature

Source: UNESCO MAB

Paris, 25 March—Following UNESCO’s Forum on Biodiversity on 24 March, the Organization has called for the mobilization of governments, citizens and civil society, including the private sector, in favour of biodiversity through the a multi-partner fund currently being set up. The aim of the mobilization is to counter the ongoing collapse affecting all living species. The United Nations is expected to invite Member States to implement a protection target of 30% of land and marine areas by 2030, at the COP 15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to be held next October in Kunming (China).

With 714 biosphere reserves, 161 Geoparks and 252 Natural Heritage sites, UNESCO sites alone already represent 6% of the planet’s surface, i.e. an area as large as China. Beyond the surface areas to be preserved, UNESCO is calling for a paradigm shift in our relationship with all living species. This involves a cultural change in the modes of production and education, and in our relationship with the environment.

A pioneer in the preservation of biodiversity with the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme created 50 years ago, UNESCO is more committed than ever to supporting the actors of change and is launching an appeal for mobilization to feed the multi-partner fund to support the restoration and conservation of biodiversity and vulnerable ecosystems in UNESCO-designated sites. The fund will notably serve to train young people and give them the tools needed to operate an ecological and solidarity-based transition that needs to be stepped up before 2030. Italy has already pledged 3.4 million euros (3.9 million dollars) over three years to the fund, which aims to raise 20 million dollars.

Beyond the protected areas that are scheduled to cover approximately one-third of the planet, UNESCO is calling for a leap forward to rally all people everywhere around the protection of Earth and the pacification of relations with the living world.

“Biodiversity, which is intimately linked to human health, is deteriorating significantly. Yet it is the life insurance policy of humanity,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay at the opening of the Forum. “There is only one planet, not one planet for nature and another for humans.”

We need a revolution in our relationship with living beings, because safeguarding 30% of nature is not enough if we continue destroying the remaining 70%. For Jane Goodall, UN Messenger of Peace and MAB’s 50th anniversary spokesperson, “We need to develop a new mindset, a more respectful relationship with nature and greener economies. If populations cannot support themselves, there will be no preservation of the environment,” she warned.

The relationship with nature and the sustainable use of natural resources was at the heart of an address by Antoine Arnault, administrator of the LVMH group: “We need to rethink supply chains and the way we preserve the natural resources we depend on. The partnership with the MAB Programme allows us to safeguard our production while working with local communities. LVMH has announced a major programme with UNESCO to preserve degraded forest areas and river ecosystems and to develop sustainable employment in eight biosphere reserves in the Amazon.

“The fight against climate change and the reduction of poverty are interdependent,” Pope Francis stressed in a written message. “Climate change is more of a moral issue than a technical one. It is essential to educate the younger generation to protect creation, to emphasize the ethical dimension beyond the scientific dimension.”

UNESCO is inviting members of the public to send a 60-second video presenting their solution and/or a commitment to living together in harmony on Earth and to conserving and sustainably using biodiversity to https://en.unesco.org/news/unesco-forum-biodiversity-road-kunming. These videos will be collected and shared as widely as possible as part of the movement leading to COP 15.

UNESCO launched the MAB Programme in 1971, one year before the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, which laid the foundations of the concept of sustainable development by the United Nations. From its inception, the general objective of the MAB Programme was to “develop the scientific basis for the rational use and conservation of the resources of the biosphere in order to improve the overall relationship between man and the environment.” It furthermore set out to “foresee the consequences of today’s actions on tomorrow’s world and thus increase human capacity to manage the natural resources of the biosphere effectively.”

UNESCO Press Release No.2021-27