On 7 October, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, took part in an information session for Permanent Delegations and Observers to UNESCO on the Category 2 Centre on Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves, entitled “Two Coastlines United by Their Culture and Nature”, under the auspices of UNESCO.
The meeting took place at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris with the participation of the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain to UNESCO, HE Mr Juan Manuel de Barandica y Luxán, the President of the Abertis Foundation, Mr Salvador Alemany, the Director of the Abertis Foundation, Dr Sergi Loughney, the Director of the Autonomous Organization of National Parks of Spain, Mr Basilio Rada, and the Scientific Representative of the Category II Centre, Professor Marti Boada.
The Director-General and the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain to UNESCO signed the agreement establishing the Centre on 5 April 2014, in the presence of the Minister of Internal Affairs of Spain and the President of the Abertis Group at Castellet I Gornal.
This is the first category 2 centre to be associated with the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme. The Centre is a platform for training and sharing advanced knowledge on environmental and societal issues between developed and developing countries in the Mediterranean basin and will enable joint programmes between different biosphere reserves.
The Director-General paid tribute to Spain for its leadership and longstanding commitment to UNESCO’s work in the MAB programme.
“This support is especially important, because Biosphere Reserves connect the dots between green societies, biodiversity, climate change mitigation, and sustainable local development,” she said. “This is why the Man and the Biosphere Programme and the World Network of Biosphere Reserves stand at the heart of UNESCO’s contribution to sustainable development, and to shaping an ambitious post-2015 development agenda,” she continued. “The creation of this Centre launches a new stage of cooperation between civil society, the Spanish Government and the United Nations.”
Both H.E. Mr Juan Manuel de Barandica y Luxán, Ambassador of the Permanent Delegation of the Kingdom of Spain and Mr Salvador Alemany, President of the Abertis Group, underlined the great honour of hosting the UNESCO Centre, which provides an opportunity to deepen studies for the protection of the environment, in a unique historical and cultural setting.
At the meeting, Mr Basilio Rada, Director of the Autonomous Organism for Natural Parks (OAPN) of the Spanish Ministry for Agriculture, Food and Environment highlighted the importance of the Man and the Biosphere programme and biosphere reserves in Spain. Spain is now host to the second largest number of biosphere reserves in the world (45), just behind the United States with 47 biosphere reserves. These 45 protected areas comprise 8.6% of Spanish territory and represent 7.2% of the World Network.
Dr Sergi Loughney, Director of the Abertis Foundation, presented the vision and activities of the Foundation relating to social responsibility, and Professor Marti Boada, Scientific Representative of the Category 2 Centre, explained the recent activities of the Centre.
This Centre will serve as a model for scientific cooperation between the two shores of the Mediterranean and provide a platform for information exchange on all issues related to biosphere reserves and their sustainable development.