The future of youth in UNESCO reserves

Article published on Oct. 6, 2017
Article published on Oct. 6, 2017

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

Youth of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserves all over the world met in Italy from September 18 to 23 to attend the first edition of the MAB Youth Forum, organized by the UNESCO Human and Biosphere Program (MAB) together with the UNESCO  Regional Office for Science and Culture in Europe, the Po Delta Biosphere Reserve and other institutional partners.

 300 young people from 142 biosphere reserves in 85 countries had the opportunity to interact by participating in 50 workshops organized in 8 locations in the Po Delta, including Adria, Ferrara and Padua. The main theme was the future of young people in the biosphere reserves that fall under the program launched by UNESCO in 1971 and now has 669 sites in 120 countries. Together, they exchanged ideas and experiences on how to improve the interaction between man and nature, the opportunities that MAB recognition can offer to their own territories and, on the other hand, the role played by the individual Biosphere Reserves in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals Agenda 2030.


In this perspective, biosphere reserves become reference models for strengthening territorial resilience to climate change, supporting low-impact economic activities and encouraging new forms of sustainable tourism. The delegates from the MAB Youth Forum also suggested the creation of hubs and incubators, together with training programs, to support business creation and hence long-term employment, linked also to the conservation of biodiversity and the restoration of habitats . The young participants are committed to organizing events with local communities on various cultural, environmental and economic issues with the aim of educating and encouraging young people to be more active in their biosphere reserves, where they will also act as ambassadors, promoters of values ​​and good practices. The final statement, signed by the young delegates, will be presented in Paris at the end of October, at the 10th UNESCO Youth Forum.

In Italy, there are 15 Biosphere Reserves, seven of which have been recognized by UNESCO since 2013. Among these, in addition to the Po Delta Reserve (recognized in 2015), there are the Tosco-Emiliano BR (2015) and Sila (2014). The latter is one of the largest areas in Italy that has been recognized by UNESCO as it covers the entire territory of the Sila National Park and also about 70 communes of three Calabrian provinces for a total area of 400,000 hectares.  In 2017, the application for the natural reserve of Monte Peglia in Umbria was submitted, which could become the sixteenth "Man and Biosphere" Italian site.