The 50th anniversary of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Program | opinion

In a recent publication, UNESCO Director Audrey Azoulay and primatologist Jane Goodall signed a public call for the preservation of the planet against the destruction of our common home. “It is sad to believe that nature speaks and humanity does not listen,” a phrase from Victor Hugo whom they appealed for the importance he has today when we face a pandemic and the consequences of the degraded state of the planet. An unsustainable development that is visible in the climate crisis, in the collapse of biodiversity, in the contamination of the oceans, in the general waste of resources and results from a relationship with nature based on dominance and exploitation and with the current destruction of 75% of terrestrial ecosystems and 40% of marine habitats. The rate of species mortality is now ten to a hundred times faster than the average for the past ten million years and is still accelerating. Of the estimated ten million animal and plant species estimated to exist on the planet, one million are critically endangered.

Our human condition is inextricably linked with nature. We are part of nature. We rely on nature to ensure food, water and protection, to regulate climate and disease, to ensure the recycling of nutrients and the production of oxygen for our spiritual fulfillment, for our health and well-being. In order to continue to guarantee these goods and services, a profound change in our relationship with nature is required, as human health depends on the health of the planet. We must therefore be ambitious to secure the necessary resources for the protection and restoration of ecosystems – the most complex and decisive ecological and political challenge for the future of humanity.

As part of the ongoing negotiations related to the Convention on Biological Diversity, 30% of the terrestrial and marine surface is expected to be protected by 2030. The 252 natural heritage sites, 714 biosphere reserves and 161 geoparks of UNESCO; 6% of the earth’s surface, on which more than 260 million people live, is already protected by this framework, which needs to be strengthened. Portugal contributes to this global number of geoparks ( Azores, Arouca, Estrela, NaturTejo da Meseta Meridional, Terras de Cavaleiros) and a World Heritage Site (Laurisilva da Madeira).

It is not possible to further promote development at the expense of the destruction of nature. We need to be able to develop other paradigms of progress and maintain a respectful relationship between people and life in general

Preserving natural values ​​in harmony with human activities for the prosperity and wellbeing of people and communities has led more than 190 countries to join UNESCO with the creation and promotion of The Man and the Biosphere, known as MaB- Program, exactly 50 years ago. A historic and visionary decision by UNESCO that affirms a pioneering development strategy on the way to planetary sustainability. The MaB program forms the basis for the establishment of the 714 biosphere reserves classified worldwide today, areas that are only considered living laboratories for sustainability. Securing them is part of a universal will to preserve natural ecosystems and their services for humanity, to integrate communities and economic activity into a peaceful and dialogical coexistence that aims at the well-being and sustainable prosperity of the areas in which they live. fit in.

It is not possible to further promote development at the expense of the destruction of nature. The 2030 Agenda and its goals for sustainable development must pave the way and respond to poverty, inequality, human rights, education, health, but also to ecosystems. We need to be able to develop other paradigms of progress and maintain a respectful relationship between people and life in general. Primatologist Jane Goodall, Ambassador for the 50th Anniversary of the MaB Program, says, “We can have a world of peace. We can go into a world where we live in harmony with nature. Where we live in harmony with others. It doesn’t matter which nation we come from. It doesn’t matter to our religion. It doesn’t matter what our culture is. This is the way we are going. “

Center for Functional Ecology – Science for the Planet and for People
Unesco Chair for Biodiversity and Nature Conservation for Sustainable Development
Biosphere Reserve Project: Sustainable Areas, Resilient Communities (EEA Grants)

The authors write according to the new orthographic agreement

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