The UNESCO MAB Programme aims to Accelerate the Adoption of Renewable Energy

renewable energy

Background

“Biosphere Reserves are an effective instrument for mitigating climate change and serve as models for adaptation to the impacts of this change. This applies particularly in the domains of sustainable land use, green economies, safeguarding ecosystem services, energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies. Biosphere Reserves are learning sites for sustainable development.“

(2011 Dresden Declaration on Biosphere Reserves and Climate Change)

Renewable energy

The past few years have seen technological, financial and policy barriers to renewable energy being overcome at a rapid pace. Together with an increased concern globally for climate change calling for mitigation measures, including energy, this has resulted in an important expansion of renewable energy installations and operations ranging from the smallest pico systems to sophisticated smart grids and large-scale centralized installations and increasingly efficient and reliable storage systems. Wind, marine energy, photovoltaic, solar, hydro, geothermal and biomass installations are therefore already today making an important contribution to the global energy supply. The renewable energy sector will undoubtedly continue to grow in the foreseeable future, not only helping to meet energy demands but also in the urgent fight against climate change.

The massive expansion of renewable energy installations, operations and consumption, has however also raised sustainability concerns in terms of their actual and potential negative effects, notably in relation to biodiversity, ecosystems services, cultural landscape, land and property prices, food and water security. In order to maximize its positive effects and to minimize any potential negative impacts, these concerns call for taking a cautionary approach also in relation to renewable energy, as with all other energy sources. Identification and sharing of good renewable energy practices and models in different socio-economic, cultural- and natural environments are therefore needed.

The UNESCO MAB Programme and its World Network of Biosphere Reserves

UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) is an Intergovernmental Scientific Programme that aims to establish a scientific basis for the improvement of relationships between people and their environments. The World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) constitutes the main tool for the implementation of MAB.

Biosphere reserves are areas comprising terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems. Each reserve promotes solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use.

Biosphere reserves are ‘Science for Sustainability support sites’ – special places for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing  International Workshop on Renewable Energies and Biosphere Reserves changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity.

Biosphere reserves are nominated by national governments and remain under the sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they are located. Their status is internationally recognized. There are presently 669 biosphere reserves in 120 countries, including 20 transboundary sites.

MAB Strategy 2015-2025

In accordance with the MAB Strategy 2015-2025 and the associated Lima Action Plan, MAB concentrates its support to Member States and stakeholders in conserving biodiversity, restoring and enhancing ecosystem services, and fostering the sustainable use of natural resources and supporting mitigation and adaptation to climate change. Subsequently the

Vision and Mission of the MAB Programme

MAB Strategy foresees the following expected result (4.3) Member States and other decision-makers recognize and promote biosphere reserves as priority sites in developing and implementing strategies on climate change mitigation and adaptation, in particular through: (1) energy efficiency and the development and adoption of renewable and clean energy, including energy saving through responsible consumption; and (2) approaches related to carbon sequestration and REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). The importance of renewable energy in the context of MAB and its WNBR is also well established in 2011 Dresden Declaration on Biosphere Reserves and Climate Change.

In addition to providing good conditions for developing, testing and assessing renewable energy strategies, biosphere reserves offer an optimal setting to find solutions which ensure an environmentally sound production of energy that also takes into account the socioeconomic factors and the support of local communities, in-line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Therefore, the aim of the workshop was to promote the exchange of experiences and good practices related to renewable energy production, distribution and consumption in and around biosphere reserves. Good practices refer here to renewable energy applications that are compatible with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the pursuit of green, low carbon economies, biodiversity conservation and the creation of benefits for the local population.

International Workshop on Renewable Energies and Biosphere Reserves

More specifically the Workshop aimed at:

  • Fostering the exchange of experiences and good practices among biosphere reserves in relation to sustainable renewable energy applications
  • Identifying opportunities for applying and multiplying lessons learned in biosphere reserves to other areas, including in sites not designated as biosphere reserves
  • Examining the opportunities for international networking among biosphere reserves as ‘Renewable energy Observatories’

Against this background, the workshop brought together 62 participants from 26 nations, including biosphere reserve managers, government representatives and National MAB Committees, experts from research and civil society organizations.

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