UNESCO International Center for
the Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves

At the 37th UNESCO General Assembly held in November 2013, the UNESCO International Centre for Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves, with its headquarters at Castellet Castle (Castellet i la Gornal, Barcelona), was designated a Category II Centre (CC2) under the auspices of UNESCO. Four months later, on the 5th of April 2014, the Centre was officially opened via an International Agreement between the Kingdom of Spain (Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment and the Autonomous Organization for National Parks) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The CC2 distinction is applied to a special kind of centre within the United Nations system. The Member States are responsible for their creation and funding as their purpose is to achieve the strategic goals of the UNESCO programme.

These centres also provide technical assistance not just in the country where they are located but also to neighbouring countries. This assistance is structured into training, research and educational activities and also fosters the creation and establishment of knowledge exchange networks between the different stakeholders in the region.

On the basis of this structure, the UNESCO International Centre for Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves is the first centre on the Man and the Biosphere Programme to combine public commitment with the support of private funding under the auspices of UNESCO. Its pioneering nature can serve as an example for scientific cooperation between the two shores of the Mediterranean Sea and constitutes a platform for the exchange of information on aspects related to BR and their sustainable development.

The Centre, in turn, seeks to boost knowledge exchange by creating a Documentation Centre to compile, structure, synthesise and publish the experiences acquired by the Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves.

Likewise, its plan of activities is based on the same aims. By facilitating events, seminars, scientific and academic meetings and training activities, the Centre hopes to disseminate and promote the main topics of relevance to the Mediterranean BR.

Centre’s functions

  • 1
    To maintain the permanent headquarters of the Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves Network in the UNESCO International Centre for Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves at Castellet Castle (Castellet i la Gornal, Barcelona).
  • 2
    To foster and promote the adhesion of Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves to the Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves Network.
  • 3
    To transfer and exchange knowledge regarding the management of the natural resources in Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves.
  • 4
    To organise training activities and seminars for the managers of Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves in order to share concerns, solutions and discuss the best available practices.
  • 5
    To conduct international cooperation studies on the effects of climate change and the monitoring of the global change indicators of the Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves.
  • 6
    To provide expert support to territories that would like to become Biosphere Reserves, especially in cross-border Mediterranean regions.
  • 7
    To produce a documentary database on environmental and social aspects in the Mediterranean basin.

Strategic guidelines

The Centre’s specific goals and its annual plans of activity are defined and structured in the form of the following strategic lines:

1. Strengthening the relations between the Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves

Creation of bonds and partnerships between the Biosphere Reserves belonging to the Network of Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves.

2. Academic and research fields

To plan  and conduct research work into the social and environmental problems and challenges of the MedBR. In addition, to promote the International University Campus among the Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves.

3. Communication and environmental education

To encourage the creation of proposals to organise communication, dissemination, environmental education and specialised educational strategies and programmes in order to implement and consolidate the links between the Centre and the directives of the MaB Programme.

4. Documentation Centre

Potentiation of this space created for the compilation, consultation and exchange of information on the Network of Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves. This is a facility tied to research and academic action through the use of new technologies and the network system for efficient informative-participative connection.

5. Strenghtening the bonds between the academia, the general public and businesses

Promotion of projects related with key issues in the Mediterranean basin, with special emphasis on projects related with the bio economy and water management, natural resources, biodiversity and sustainable tourism.

6. To enhance local and regional institutional relations related with the Mediterranean

Creation of networks for the collaboration and exchange of experiences on an international, state-wide, regional and local scale.

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