TALLINN– On Nov. 4 Estonia was chosen to be a member of the International Coordinating Council of the “Man and Biosphere” (MAB) program during the 36th UNESCO General Conference in Paris. Estonia will be represented by member of the advisory committee of the Estonian National Commission for UNESCO and geography PhD Toomas Kokovkin.
In total, 34 countries are selected to coordinate the program during a four-year term.
Estonian Ambassador to UNESCO Marten Kokk noted that Estonia has become significantly more active in UNESCO. The ambassador stated that for the past few years, Estonia has belonged to the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for Safeguarding Intangible Heritage and is currently a member of the World Heritage Committee. “During this General Conference, Estonia is for the first time a member of the Legal Committee, and now our candidate has been chosen to be a member of the ‘Man and Biosphere’ program,” said Kokk.
“Man and Biosphere” is an intergovernmental research program that primarily aims to ensure the balanced development of global biological diversity alongside human cultures. The program relies on the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, which is made up of over 500 reserves in various major ecosystems. They are not regular reserves, but rather sites where solutions for sustainable development are developed and the combined effects of the local community and cultural heritage on the local environment are studied.
A biosphere reserve with a similar purpose was created in the western Estonian islands in 1990. Since ancient knowledge of how to sustainably use the biosphere exists in all the world’s various ecosystems, the MAB has the goal of introducing, and also implementing, this knowledge as widely as possible. The “Man and Biosphere” program, which is 40 years old now, also has many topic-specific sub-programs, for example programs for deserts, mountains, urban areas, islands, and coastal areas.