Press release

UNESCO Director-General to attend International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere Programme in Africa

15 - Life on Land

Mere days after the World Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature shone a light on the global diversity crisis, stating that more than 8,500 species are threatened with extinction, the International Coordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB-ICC) meets for its 33rd Session in Abuja (Nigeria) from 13 to 17 September 2021. The council will review proposals for new biosphere reserves on 15 September.

The meeting will be opened by Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, and Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria, marking the first time that the MAB-ICC is held in Africa. The Minister of State for Environment of Nigeria, Sharon Ikeazor, and the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, will also participate in the MAB Council, alongside representatives of UNESCO’s Member States.

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UNESCO, a custodian of knowledge and know-how concerning biodiversity, has been developing concrete solutions to environmental challenges for over 50 years through the MAB programme and its network of protected sites, covering nearly 6% of the planet. 
With 714 biosphere reserves in 129 countries, UNESCO seeks to reconcile humans and nature and demonstrate that it is possible to use biodiversity sustainably while fostering its conservation. 

The MAB Council is an opportunity to review progress, define priorities and coordinate international cooperation in support of biodiversity and ecological sciences. The MAB-ICC will also select the recipients of the Michel Batisse Award and the UNESCO-MAB Young Scientists Awards on 16 September.

During her official visit to Nigeria, the Director-General of UNESCO will also travel to Okwangwo Biosphere Reserve where she will learn more about the conservation efforts to protect the critically endangered Cross River Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli). The most extensive areas of relatively undisturbed tropical moist forest remaining in Nigeria, a natural habitat that is essential to the Cross River Gorilla’s survival, is within the biosphere reserve. 


More information:

For UNESCO team interview requests: Clare O’Hagan,, +33 (0)1 45 68 17 29