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Cablegate: Unesco: Man and Biosphere Coordinating Council Ponders

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Lucia A Keegan 11/28/2006 10:03:18 AM From DB/Inbox: Lucia A Keegan

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Text:


UNCLAS PARIS 07451

SIPDIS
cxparis:
ACTION: UNESCO
INFO: POL ECON AMBU AMB AMBO DCM SCI

DISSEMINATION: UNESCOX
CHARGE: PROG

APPROVED: CHG: AKOSS
DRAFTED: POL: AEHOUCKE, MAPOI
CLEARED: SCI: NJCOOPER, AMB: LOLIVER

VZCZCFRI736
RR RUEHC
DE RUEHFR #7451/01 3241104
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 201104Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 3221

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 PARIS 007451

SIPDIS

FROM USMISSION UNESCO PARIS

FOR OES - ANDREW REYNOLDS, ANTOINETTE CONDO, BARRIE RIPIN, CHRISTINE
DAWSON
FOR IO - JIM DUFTY
DEPARTMENT PASS NSF FOR ROSE GOMBAY
DEPARTMENT PASS OSTP FOR GENE WHITNEY
DEPARTMENT PASS USGS FOR VERNE SCHNEIDER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: UNESCO SCI SENV EAID SP
SUBJECT: UNESCO: MAN AND BIOSPHERE COORDINATING COUNCIL PONDERS
FUTURE OF THE BIOSPHERE RESERVE PROGRAM

1. Summary. The 19th session of the MAB Coordinating Council focused
on the need to define the program's future, particularly in the
context of the formulation of the new UNESCO Medium-Term Strategy
for 2008-2013. Issues debated included: the need to devise an
appropriate approach to identifying the different zones within
biosphere reserves; the need for enhanced cooperation at national
and regional levels; the evolution of the relationship between
development and biosphere reserves; and the use of Biosphere
Reserves to further scientific research. Egypt proposed a new
international convention for MAB. The U.S., supported by Costa Rica,
noted the lack of support for such a convention and instead
encouraged MAB to return to its original mission of science and
research. The Spanish Minister of Environment, Ms. Cristina Narbona
Ruiz, extended Spain's offer to host the Third World Congress of
Biosphere Reserves in Madrid. The conference will take place in
early February 2008. The Council adopted a five-point action plan
(para 11). All summary documents pertaining to the overall session
and presentations can be found at the MAB website:
http://www.unesco.org/mab/icc/icc19th.shtml.

2. The U.S. was represented at the meeting by Ambassador Louise V.
Oliver and by USUNESCO science officer. NGO representatives Tom
Gilbert (Biosphere Reserve Association) and Cathie Adams
(Sovereignty International) participated as observers, with the
former serving as a panelist. In his panel presentation, Gilbert
stressed that member states need to develop criteria for their sites
before any effort by the Secretariat to chart next steps for the
program. Subsequent to the MAB ICC meeting, the Director of the MAB
program, Ishwaran Natarajan informed the Mission that he plans to
enhance cooperation with the U.S. including via UNESCO's New York
office, a development on which the Mission will report separately.
(Comment: Mission suggests that IO/UNESCO contact the New York
office to learn more about their plans regarding MAB. End Comment.)
End Summary.

3. In its opening remarks, the MAB Secretariat emphasized the need
for MAB to adapt to and take advantage of current UN reform efforts,
the next UNESCO Medium-Term Strategy and Program and Budget (C4/C5)
exercises, as well as the ongoing Science Review. Regarding the
Draft C4/C5, the MAB Secretariat proposed focusing on mission
rationalization and on activities directly benefiting local and
national stakeholders. The Secretariat called for better
coordination between high-level MAB meetings and the meetings of
UNESCO's Executive Board and General Conference.

4. In response to the Secretariat's comments, Egypt proposed that a
committee of experts examine the possibility of an international
convention for MAB in order to increase the visibility and the
efficiency of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, and to have a
normative instrument that would have to be taken into account by
policy makers. The U.S. expressed strong reservations on this
proposal. Upon hearing Ambassador Oliver's objections to such a
convention, Egypt stated that perhaps the discussion reflected a
misunderstanding of its goals. Egypt noted that it wished to have an
agreement on strategy to better link programs and to close the
disparity between work done at the MAB Secretariat and work done by
national and local networks. Ambassador Oliver emphasized that
strategy and conventions are "two very different conversations,"
stressing the need for precise clarity when dealing with such
proposals.

PROGRESS REPORTS IDENTIFY NEEDS

5. During the national and regional MAB committee progress reports,
upcoming challenges and key issues were identified as: exploring the
linkages between the MAB program and the Millennium Development
Goals; improving government support; enhancing cooperation at all
levels; strengthening the role of MAB networking at the national,
sub-regional and regional levels; enhancing South-South and
North-South-South cooperation; increasing the role of Biosphere
Reserves as tools for coping and adapting to climate and
socio-economic change; increasing the visibility of the program;
studying the increasing importance of urban issues; and, concerns
related to marine and coastal ecosystems and their management.

LOOKING TOWARDS THE FUTURE: THE MEDIUM-TERM STRATEGY

6. During the Medium-Term Strategy Debate, Israel and the U.S.
observer (Tom Gilbert) stressed the importance of the scientific
role of Biosphere Reserves. Israel also highlighted the importance
of taxonomy initiatives. Russia noted that at the program's
inception, MAB had 14 international projects and suggested that some
old programs be revisited. The Secretariat responded by saying that
old programs could be revisited as long as they can contribute to
today's MAB and will not expand MAB beyond its available resources.
The Secretariat evoked a project on renewable energy as a
possibility, as such a project would relate directly to land use.
The United Kingdom suggested that some of the Medium-Term Strategy
Strategic Program Objectives be tied to climate change, with Israel
countering that it would be better to tie them to global change so
as not to limit the objectives.

ROLE FOR BIOSPHERE RESERVES IN CONSERVATION, DEVELOPMENT, AND AS
SCIENCE LABS

7. Three panels provided an appraisal of future challenges for the
Biosphere Reserve program, particularly in attaining the 2010
biodiversity target of the Convention on Biological Diversity and
the MDG-7 (environmental sustainability).

8. Panel one explored the role played by Biosphere Reserves as
learning laboratories for conservation and sustainable use of
biodiversity. The Swedish panelist and U.S. panelist (Tom Gilbert)
suggested the reformulation of zoning schemas of Biosphere Reserves
to reflect national and local zoning practices. In his
presentation, Gilbert also stressed that member states need to
develop criteria for their sites before any effort by the
Secretariat to plot future strategy for the program. Other

SIPDIS
panelists stressed that the relationship between conservation and
development needs to be specified for each of the three zones of the
Biosphere Reserves: core, buffer, and transitional. The idea of new
types of protected areas, such as "archipelago reserves" and
ecological corridors linking dispersed protected areas, was put
forth by the panel. The Swedish panelist highlighted the need to
increase coordination with the Ramsar Convention and other
multilateral environmental agreements. In response to the panel
presentation, Mexico argued that an examination of whether a
biosphere is actually conserving biodiversity is necessary. Given
climate change, some reserves may no longer be fulfilling this
function; therefore, rehabilitation of these reserves may be
necessary. Argentina called for a clearer identification, as well as
reasoning, of what type of development is to be permitted in the
three different zones.

9. Panel two addressed the issue of socio-economic, human and
institutional development in Biosphere Reserves. Panelists proposed
rethinking the necessary integration of the three functions
(conservation, development and logistic) of the Biosphere Reserve
model. A German panelist suggested that an emphasis be put on the
elaboration of stronger socio-economic criteria in the designation
of Biosphere Reserves. Panelists identified the urgent need to
develop interaction between stakeholders at different levels, as
well as the necessity of developing cooperation among reserves. In
response to the panel, Chile called for clearer language on the
types of development to be permitted in each of the three zones and
asked that the maintenance of conservation remain the key priority
for Biosphere Reserves. Egypt argued that social and economic
criteria should be equal to biological criteria in selecting
Biosphere Reserves. Austria made a proposition concerning Biosphere
Reserves created before the adoption of the Seville Strategy (which
says that a reserve must fulfill three functions: conservation of
biodiversity, sustainable development, and logistical support).
These "first-generation" Biosphere Reserves fulfill a uniquely
research function. Austria, with the subsequent support of the
United Kingdom and Israel, thus proposed creating a new "research"
category for these Biosphere Reserves.

10. Panel three reaffirmed the role of Biosphere Reserves as
privileged sites for creating and transmitting knowledge. A panel
proposal presented by the Swedish Chair suggested that UNESCO take
the lead role in building a global infrastructure for an
evidence-based approach to ecosystem management, for which
multi-stakeholder cooperation should exist along with an effort to
build upon the achievements of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.
Sweden also proposed the creation of a framework for long-term
ecological and social monitoring and research to develop
partnerships between the World Network of Biosphere Reserves and the
scientific community (the MISTRA Institute). During the ensuing
discussion, the gap between scientists and policy professionals was
addressed, as well as the need for more cooperation between all
levels and actors.

11. At the close of the 19th ICC, a provisional five- point roadmap
for the future was adopted. The document confirmed as priorities:
developing more efficient coordination with UNESCO's Executive Board
and General Conference; considering both conservation and
development in reviewing the criteria for each of the three zones
(core, buffer, and transitional) within Biosphere Reserves;
coordinating science, policy, and practice for Biosphere Reserves as
learning platforms; strengthening MAB and the Biosphere Reserve
Regional Networks so that they become the main drivers of MAB and
Biosphere Reserve agendas; and, identifying policy and political
initiatives to make Biosphere Reserves centers of learning for
sustainable development.

TWENTY FIVE NEW SITES APPROVED

12. The ICC elected new members to the Bureau with Sweden as Chair
and Russia, Chile, Vietnam, Ethiopia, and Sudan acting as
Vice-Chairs. The newly-elected Bureau members approved 25 new
biosphere reserves, with the admittance of the first-ever
transcontinental reserve, the Intercontinental Biosphere Reserve of
the Mediterranean located in the Moroccan and Spanish territories.
The new sites brought the total number of Biosphere Reserves to 507
located in 102 countries. Debate on the proposed sites concerned
zoning as certain candidates contain mostly marine and desert areas
in which there is a lack of terrestrial criteria typically needed
for zoning. New challenges therefore arise on how to identify each
of the three zones (core, buffer, and transitional) in such areas.

13. The first Michel Batisse Award for biosphere reserve management
was given to Ms Birgit Reutz-Hornsteiner, from Austria, for her work
as the manager of the Biosphere Reserve Grosses Walsertal, Austria.
KOSS

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