The Madrid Declaration was adopted following week-long deliberations. It calls for capitalization of “the potential for action of biosphere reserves to address new challenges” such as the loss of traditional knowledge and cultural diversity, demography, loss of arable land and climate change. To that end, the Declaration recommends building effective partnerships through cooperation among all governmental levels, the private sector, media, civil society organizations, indigenous and local communities, research and education centers and other such institutions.
In addition, the Madrid Declaration recommends the creation of “an innovative mechanism for sustainable funding” aimed at reinforcing biosphere reserves, and urges the development of cooperation between the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme and UNESCO’s other intergovernmental scientific programmes.
Congress participants numbered over 800: representatives from biosphere reserves, private and state institutions working with them and civil society organizations. They also adopted the Madrid Action Plan, mapping out the MAB programme’s strategy for 2008-2013. Consisting of 31 goals and 62 actions, the plan underlines the need to use biosphere reserves as places to demonstrate effective responses to such challenges as climate change, growing urbanization, poverty and desertification.
Concrete activities called for by the Action Plan include facilitating integration of urban areas of the reserves; organizing training related to the different ecosystems; establishing pilot reserves in order to evaluate their economic contribution at local level; involving the private sector; and promoting the biosphere reserve brand for products.
The International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere Programme met during the Congress and elected Henri Djombo, Minister of Forestry and Environment of the Republic of Congo, as President of the Bureau for 2008-2009. The five vice-presidents are representatives from Lebanon, Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, Spain and Argentina.
With the Rostowsky reserve (Russian Federation) and the Marietas Islands (Mexico) having just joined, UNESCO’s world network of biosphere reserves now includes 531 reserves spread over 105 countries.
Related links: More on the World Congress of Biosphere Reserves
Contact : Lucía Iglesias Kuntz, Bureau of Public Information, firstname.lastname@example.org