MAB Programme UNESCO


The Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, of UNESCO, started in the beginning of the 1970s, develops the bases, within the natural and social sciences, for the sustainable use and preservation of the biological diversity, and for the improvement of the relationships between people and their environment.

The MAB Programme promotes the interdisciplinary investigation of natural and social sciences, and the training in management of natural resources, particularly on the preservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. The MAB therefore contributes, not only to understand environment better –including global change—, but also to establish a proper commitment between science and scientists and the development of policies relative to the rational use of biological diversity.

The MAB collaborates with other international organisations to inspire specific results in various aspects of sustainable development –Convention on Biological Diversity, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, for the collaborative and coordinated intervention on wetlands, and International Programme of Biodiversity Science.

The secretary's office of the MAB Programme is situated in the headquarters of UNESCO, in Paris, and their government authority is the International Coordinating Council (ICC), composed at all times of 34 countries out of the 105 that participate in the MAB Programme, these changing in a rotating fashion. Half of the members if the ICC is renewed every two years, during the General Conference of UNESCO. In the ICC meetings, also held every two years, the members of the Table or Bureau are elected. This organism is comprised of six members, one for each United Nations geopolitical region, one of which is the President and the rest are Vice-presidents. Currently, Spain occupies one of the vice-presidential positions, representing Europe.

Each country interested in and committed to implement this Programme has to organise a National Committee or MAB Committee with an assessing, coordinating and action management role, which integrates as members representatives of organisms and institutions more related to the contents of the MAB Programme. When it is not possible to organise a Committee, it is admitted that one person may assume the function of Focal point of the MAB Programme, even though it is recommended that this situation is only temporary.

Throughout more than thirty years of functioning, the Programme has been focusing its actions on the figure of biosphere reserve. Nowadays, the main goal of the MAB Programme is to promote the functioning of the biosphere individual reserves and, above all, to strengthen the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. This is considered to be an effective instrument for the implementation of preservation projects and sustainable use of biological diversity, for the development of scientific programmes and for the integrated management of natural resources, through the application of the concept of biosphere reserve in the field.

The Madrid Action Plan, approved during the Third World Congress of Biosphere Reserves, sets out the strategy of the MAB Programme for the period 2008–2013. It consists of a series of objectives and actions which underline the need to use the biosphere reserves as places of demonstration that offer efficient answers to the new challenges –such as the loss of traditional knowledge and cultural diversity, demographics, loss of cultivable land, climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development, particularly places that are capable of mitigating and adapting to the climate change—, and to promote a greater use of renewable energies in the sustainable future of rural and urban areas to improve and take advantage of ecosystem services and products in the sustainable development for human well-being.

The Lima Action Plan for the Man and Biosphere (MaB) Programme of UNESCO and its World Network of Biosphere Reserves (2016-2025) contains a set of comprehensive, but concise actions, whose aim is the ensure the effective implementation of the MaB 2015-2025 strategy adopted by CIC-MAB at its 27th session (UNESCO, Paris, 8-12 June 2015) and endorsed by the General Conference of UNESCO at its 38th session (UNESCO, Paris, November 3-18, 2015). Both the MaB 2015-2025 strategy and the Lima Action Plan 2016-2025 are based in the continuity of the Seville Strategy and in the framework statutory of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) and are based on the conclusions of the evaluation of the implementation of the Madrid Action Plan for Biosphere Reserves (2008-2013).