In order to foster island and coastal biosphere reserves as sites applying innovative solutions in response to the pandemic, the World Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves (WNICBR) launched a call for projects aimed at mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on this territories.
Up to four projects are to be granted with a maximum amount of 15.000 USD each, to be implemented by the end of 2021.
Thirty-two proposals from 17 countries were received, and the good quality of these demonstrate that the WNICBR is a dynamic and active network with great potential to develop interesting initiatives and resilient models to address the current crisis.
The evaluation committee, made up of representatives from the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme Secretariat, the WNICBR secretariats of Jeju (Republic of Korea) and Menorca (Spain) and the Spanish MAB National Committee, after assessing the proposals, has selected the following projects:
- Ecosystem and Economic Recovery to the Impact of COVID-19 on Communities in the Core Zone of the Taka Bonerate-Selayar Archipelago Biosphere Reserve (Indonesia), submitted by Taka Bonerate National Park, with a total budget of 14, 998 USD. This project is aimed at increase food self-sufficiency and ecosystem restoration through community participation, capacity building and empowerment, including the creation of small-scale businesses. It is focused on the four-axis of the call: education and capacity building; sustainable income generation; food security and ecosystem restoration.
- Reimagined post-COVID-19 sustainable livelihoods in the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve (India), submitted by the Surabhi Foundation for Research and Cultural Exchange, with a total budget of 15, 000 USD. This proposal is focused on education and capacity building, and sustainable income generation. Its main goal is to involve the community, especially youth and indigenous people, in the articulation and dissemination of traditional and new knowledge practices, including the use of marine resources for medical purpose. It will produce a series of local language communication materials and identify possible skill development areas.
- MARBioPRÍNCIPE: Plastics associated with COVID-19 and the conservation of marine and coastal biodiversity of the Príncipe Island Biosphere Reserve (Sao Tomé & Príncipe), submitted by the Principe Island Biosphere Reserve, with a total budget of 15,000 USD. This proposal includes an awareness-raising campaign which will transfer knowledge from the recent scientific expedition that mapped the marine life and habitats of Principe, producing original environmental materials to be used in training, educational and awareness activities. It will involve local communities and international actors. Its main focus are education and capacity building, and ecosystem restoration.
- Technical-environmental training for families with food shortages exsacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic in the operation of low-cost hydroponic modules for fruit and vegetable production in the El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve (Mexico), submitted by the Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste and the Municipality of El Vizcaíno, with a total budget of 10,150 USD. This proposal, which focuses on education and capacity building, sustainable income generation and food security, aims to implement a pilot training plan for the establishment of hydroponic modules for fruit and vegetable production to reduce the food insecurity of families living in poverty, which has been aggravated by the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the El Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve.
The joint WNICBR secretariats of Jeju and Menorca, the Spanish MAB Committee and the MAB Programme hope that the development of these proposals will bring new opportunities for local communities to overcome the pandemic, as well as useful knowledge exchange within this network and beyond.