UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Program is an intergovernmental program aimed at improving the relationship between man and the environment in a global perspective, on a scientific basis.
The program started in the early 1970s and is an interdisciplinary program where natural sciences and social sciences are combined.
The biosphere program fulfills many functions and encourages the development of local solutions to global challenges. The biosphere program therefore contributes not only to a better understanding of the environment and global changes, but also to a stronger co-management as collaboration between actors at different levels of society is a guiding light. A biosphere reserve can be seen as a bridge builder that connects strategic actors in a specific area. In Biosphere Reserves, new methods are tested and new knowledge is sought with the goal that the biosphere reserve should provide examples of how humans can preserve a natural area while creating conditions for people to be able to live sustainably in a certain area, to contribute to a better understanding of the biosphere’s resources.
The biosphere program differs from UNESCO’s other scientific programs in that it is based on local commitment to sustainable community development in the areas. It is UNESCO that designates biosphere reserves after a nomination from the member states. Today (2021) there are more than 700 biosphere reserves in 129 countries, which cooperate with the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. The biosphere program is led at a central level by a board and the program has several sub-programs and activities that include mountains, dry areas, tropical forests, urban landscapes, wetlands, sea, islands and coastal ecosystems.
Biosphere reserves do not add any regulations or restrictions. The purpose of biosphere reserves is for them to function inspiringly. If many strive for common goals, the forces and opportunities will be stronger. Cooperation and participation are therefore the basis of the biosphere concept. You are a part of the biosphere!