UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme

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UNESCO’s Man And the Biosphere (MAB) Programme focuses on researching and testing different approaches to sustainable development that encompasses many various disciplines. These approaches are put into practice through the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. Each biosphere reserve in this global network has a unique configuration of climate and biodiversity as well as cultural and economic circumstances. Biosphere reserves stand as exemplary beacons of how people can apply the global principles of sustainable development to actions on a local scale.

The MAB Programme also engages in wider activities on significant ecosystems through networks on mountains and island and coastal areas. Activities include studies on carbon economies, ecosystem management, desertification, sacred natural sites and global change in mountain regions.

National and International Networks

UK Man and the Biosphere Committee

The UK MAB Committee represents various groups with an interest in biosphere reserves that reflect the multiple facets of the MAB Programme. These include representatives from existing biosphere reserves, and government agencies. UK MAB supports and provides oversight of UK biosphere reserves

The UK MAB Committee is independent to, but works closely with, the UK National Commission for UNESCO.


The EuroMAB Network includes all European and North-American member states which participate in UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme and its World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR). EuroMAB is the largest and oldest of the nine regional and inter-regional MAB Networks.

EuroMAB is made up of 36 countries, including Canada and the USA, and includes 302 biosphere reserves (BRs). Bringing together almost half of the total WNBR sites, the EuroMAB Network is a platform for sharing knowledge, know-how and experience of sustainable development, as well as a collective tool for supporting sustainable development practices among BR coordinators, scientists and MAB National Committees.


World Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves

The World Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves was launched in 2009 by UNESCO MAB Programme to foster sustainable development in islands and coastal areas and to promote adaptation and mitigation strategies on climate change.

Islands and coastal areas, while representing a wide range of contexts, have shared characteristics and face common challenges. They are sensitive sites due to their high level of biodiversity and the great amount of endemism and fragile and rare ecosystems that they shelter. They are are particularly vulnerable to processes of global change such as climate change, and in turn have great potential in the study of these changes and in the implementation and testing of sustainable development policies.

To make the most of this potential, the Network emerges as a forum for cooperation and knowledge transfer between distant territories facing common challenges. In this context, networking is a great opportunity for our biosphere reserves to be enriched and to advance in the challenge of bringing the concept of sustainable development to the local level.


World Network of Mountain Biosphere Reserves

During the 14th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves, which took place in 2016 in Lima, Peru, a proposal was made to create a thematic network of biosphere reserves located in mountain areas. In December 2021 – the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development – the UNESCO MAB Programme, along with the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI), launched the World Network of Mountain Biosphere Reserves.

The World Network of Mountain Biosphere Reserves aims to provide constant support to biosphere reserves through research, strategic partnerships and collaborations as well as North-South and South-South exchanges of experience. This approach will enable the WNMBR to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and climatic and biodiversity agreements, without leaving anyone behind.


Biosphere Reserves Institute

The Biosphere Reserves Institute is a scientific institution of Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development. It was established in 2019 to promote education, research and training with a focus on the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme and the World Network of Biosphere Reserves as an instrument of its implementation.

Building on the expertise of its co-founders, the Departments of Forest and Environment and Landscape Management and Nature Conservation, and in cooperation with its partners, the BRI seeks to become a centre of competence for biosphere reserves worldwide.

UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme Documents

Become a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve