UNESCO Forum on Biodiversity – Mirage News


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Date Time

UNESCO Forum on Biodiversity

Our Planet, Our Future: 50 Years of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere programme

“On the way to Kunming”

The online event will be accessible in French and English and broadcast on UNESCO’s various online communication media and through partner media sites.

  • 01: 00 pm – Inaugural session

    Launch of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere programme: A Different Way of Living Together on Earth

  • 02: 00 pm – Session 1

    Facing the Challenges: Climate, Biodiversity and Ocean

  • 02: 45 pm- Session 2

    How to transform political, economic and citizen action through ocean knowledge?

  • 04: 00 pm – Session 3

    Passing on our capacities for action and transformation: on the road to Kunming

Launch of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere programme: A Different Way of Living Together on Earth

1: 00-2: 00 pm (Time in Paris, France, GMT+1)

This inaugural session will mark the official launch of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme. The MAB programme, an intergovernmental scientific programme, is UNESCO’s oldest. It was launched in 1971 with the aim of establishing a benchmark for improving the relationship between people and their environment. Its pioneering vision, which involves combining the natural and social sciences to improve human livelihoods and safeguard biodiversity and natural resources, makes it an important contributor to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

2021 is also a “super year” for biodiversity, during which new objectives and commitments will be made for the coming decade. UNESCO and all its partners will join forces in this regard.


  • Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO
  • Dr Jane Goodall, DBE. Founder – the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace; UNESCO-MAB 50th Anniversary Patron
  • Joint interview: Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, and Antoine Arnault, LVMH Image & Environment
  • Message from Pope Francis read by Mrg Francesco Follo, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to UNESCO

Session 1: Facing the Challenges: Climate, Biodiversity and Ocean

02: 00-02: 40 pm (Time in Paris, France, GMT+1)


  • Her Royal Highness Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan of Jordan, UNESCO Special Envoy for Science for Peace
  • Ana Maria Hernández Salgar, Chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)
  • Hoesung Lee, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
  • Peter Thomson, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean
Photo: young volonteers participate in a mangrove restoration project, Thailand. © Sura Nualpradid / Shutterstock.com

Session 2: How to transform political, economic and citizen action through ocean knowledge?

02: 45-03: 45 pm (Time in Paris, France, GMT+1)

Human health and well-being, including sustainable and equitable economic development, depend on the health and safety of the ocean. The ocean provides food and sustenance for more than 3 billion people. It is an essential ally in the fight against climate change and the erosion of biodiversity, and is a source of important cultural, aesthetic and recreational values. This session aims to highlight the central role of the ocean in the post-COVID world. It underlines that, in addition to ensuring an equitable and sustainable recovery, we must act now if we are to achieve real climate action, preserve biodiversity and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Ocean health is central to achieving these goals. The purpose of the Ocean Science Decade is “to catalyse transformative ocean science solutions for sustainable development, connecting people and our ocean“. Building on the experience of different actors (scientists, the media, sportspeople and civil society), it will highlight innovative actions rooted in science, emphasizing the appropriation of knowledge by society as a whole and its use for a more resilient, equitable and sustainable future.


  • Jesse H. Ausubel, Director of the Human Environment Program at Rockefeller University
  • Damian Carrington, Environment Editor, The Guardian
  • Maya Gabeira, Big Wave Surfer, 2x World Record Holder, Oceana Ambassador
  • Boris Hermann, Vendée Globe Race 2020-2021 Skipper, Seaexplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco
  • Romain Troublé, Director-General, Tara Foundations


  • David Eades, Chief Presenter, BBC TV News
  • Taylor Goeltz, Program Manager, Shipping Decarbonization Initiative, Aspen Institute | Member, Ocean Decade Early Career Ocean Professional Informal Working Group
Photo: Turtle hatchlings © seasoning 17

Session 3: Passing on our capacities for action and transformation: on the road to Kunming

04: 00-05: 15 pm (Time in Paris, France, GMT+1)

This session aims to discuss a roadmap for action towards an ecological and solidarity-based transition. The roadmap will illustrate the eight transitions that the CBD (GEOBON Report 5) has identified as necessary for a more sustainable coexistence between societies and nature, and build on the practices and solutions shared by the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. The goal is to develop a vision of how we can coexist on Earth differently and co-construct a common world that is inhabitable by all in 2030.

To achieve this reconciliation and respectful cohabitation, we must put biodiversity and climate action at the centre of our decisions and actions, given its essential role in the health, economy and well-being. This session will contribute to the development of a concept note for the 2021 G20 in Italy, and seek to ensure that we no longer destroy the habitability of our common home and pass on this right to all present and future generations, building on the Global Network and the MAB Network’s youth-led movement in Kunming and for Stockholm +50 in 2022.


  • Wasfia Nazreen, Mountaineer and environmental activist
  • Basile Van Havre, Co-Chair of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework
  • Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Representative of the Indigenous Peoples of Lake Chad, SDG Advocate of the UNSG
  • Nicolas Hulot, Honorary President of La Fondation Nicolas Hulot pour la nature et l’homme (The Foundation for Nature and Mankind)
  • Arnaud Lallement, Chef, Chiefs4thePlanet


  • Dominique Laresche, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, TV5 Monde
  • Alice Roth, MAB Youth


05: 15-05: 30 pm

Photo: Porto Santo Biosphere Reserve is located in the archipelago of Madeira, Portugal. © Porto Santo Biosphere Reserve

Context & objectives Programme Speakers Why UNESCO? Partners Top

Climate change and the erosion of biodiversity are interdependent challenges. They both contribute to the devastation of lives, ecosystems, habitats and our natural and cultural heritage. Their multifaceted impact takes the form of forest fires, destruction of mangroves, and increased ocean temperatures leading to coral bleaching. These two phenomena are also responsible for droughts, food shortages and forced migration, causing serious health consequences as with the COVID-19 crisis, and exacerbating poverty and inequalities, which are obstacles to peace worldwide.

The IPCC and IPBES reports are clear. Global warming must be limited to 1.5°C if we are to avoid even more dramatic consequences of climate change. Above this threshold, the human, economic and planetary costs could be catastrophic: extinction of species, islands submerged by oceans, water extremes, proliferation of toxic algae, and the emergence of new viruses and bacteria due to the melting of the cryosphere. Based on our current trajectory, however, global warming is likely to be around 4°C. Similarly, according to a damning IPBES report on the biodiversity crisis and the causes of pandemics, nothing will ever be the same again. Human activities have already profoundly altered nature over most of the planet: this concerns 75% of the terrestrial environment, 40% of the marine environment, 50% of rivers, and 1 million species, which are threatened with extinction.

It is largely due to the impressive technologies developed from the industrial revolution to the present day, and their limitless use, that we have entered the Anthropocene. This anthropogenic environmental emergency raises the question of the stakes and challenges of science in the 21st century, but also our ethical principles, particularly with respect to responsibility for environmental crises: that of political decision makers, economic leaders, the scientific community, opinion leaders, economists, citizens activists, philosophers, moralists, theologians, indigenous peoples, and above all, each and every one of us as citizens of the world. Reconciling with the living world requires an understanding of scientific issues and also individual and collective responsibility.

UNESCO is inviting everyone to play their part in building the foundations of this shared world through a series of events and meetings in 2021 to share practices, solutions and activities that are respectful of all ecosystems. Indeed, the UNESCO Biodiversity Forum on 24 March, the World Conservation Congress in Marseille in September, the COP 15 in Kunming, China, and finally the COP 26 on climate change in Glasgow in November will be opportunities to show our ambition and obtain concrete commitments for the planet. These meetings will allow us to facilitate progress towards an ecological and solidarity-based transition within territories and Member States.

It is in this general context that the UNESCO Biodiversity Forum will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Man and the Biosphere programme. The anniversary will reflect achievements made over the past half century and pay tribute to those who have made a significant contribution to the programme, paving the way for the future by focusing on young people in biosphere reserves.

Within this framework, UNESCO invites debate on the following challenges:

  • Finding different ways of living together on Earth, through climate action, biodiversity preservation and ocean health;
  • Exploring the interdependence of issues affecting the planet and humanity;
  • Respectfully managing the Earth for present and future generations and in interaction with other living species, building on the principles of solidarity, equity and justice;
  • Blurring the boundaries that separate us from the rest of the living world;
  • Maintaining the independence of science and the integrity of the scientific process, which is necessary for environmental decision-making;
  • Breaking down barriers to accessing scientific information, given that environmental decisions should be based on and guided by the best available scientific knowledge;
  • Recognising different forms of knowledge, including that of indigenous peoples, for the harmonious management of biodiversity;
  • Developing a conception of contemporary social and economic life that integrates concern for the sustainability of the system over the very long term;
  • Reducing inequalities and eradicating poverty, which is exacerbated by environmental and health crises;
  • Preventing harm and supporting citizen action in relation to the management and use of the planet’s resources.
Photo: © Mwali Biosphere Reserve (Comoros)

Context & objectives Programme Speakers Why UNESCO? Partners Top

UNESCO, as a laboratory of ideas and a guardian for knowledge and know-how that respects biodiversity and the environment, has an important role to play in helping to nurture and shape dialogue on environmental challenges and their implications for ethics and world peace. Given UNESCO’s mandate as a multidisciplinary entity within the UN system, it can play a leading role in addressing these issues within a framework that promotes the importance of human values.

We do this through our programmes supporting the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, the co-production of scientific, local and indigenous knowledge as well as environmental education and the safeguarding of cultural and natural heritage, but also through platforms for dialogue such as this Forum of Ideas. Indeed, UNESCO’s mandate covers Biosphere Reserves, World Heritage sites, Geoparks, conservation, and the protection of the oceans. It is precisely at the crossroads of these fields that dialogue on environmental issues needs to take place. It is therefore up to UNESCO to propose, building on this sustained momentum, a profound “reformulation” of the bedrock principles of the relationship between humans and the living world, at the crossroads of the three converging issues of climate, biodiversity and the ocean.

As early as 2017, in the Declaration of Ethical Principles in relation to Climate Change, UNESCO’s Member States affirmed that “the interaction between humans and ecosystems is particularly important because of their strong interdependence” (Article 4.2) and drew the ethical consequences of this, mainly concerning equity and justice between humans. The time has come to broaden these ethical principles beyond climate change and beyond the human realm.

UNESCO’s Ambition for 2030: 100% responsible for our Earth

The post-2020 agreement on biodiversity, currently under negotiation, suggests preserving 30% of the planet in protected areas. UNESCO is already contributing to these efforts through the creation of areas that reconcile conservation with the sustainable use of biodiversity. These areas include UNESCO’s 252 Natural World Heritage sites, 714 Biosphere Reserves, and 161 World Geoparks. Within these sites, UNESCO currently protects 6% of the Earth’s land mass, an area equivalent to the surface of China.

UNESCO’s ambition is for all humans to take responsibility for and become protectors of the living world. In 2021, as UNESCO celebrates its 75th anniversary, it wishes to share its expertise and launch dialogue on the diversity of solutions that allow us to meet these challenges by drawing on the knowledge and practices of the millions of people inhabiting the planet’s ecosystems. UNESCO also wishes to be open to ideas, good practices and solutions developed by the personalities and partner organizations invited to this Forum.

Photo: Beach clean-up initiative in Maio Biosphere Reserve (Cabo Verde) © Jeff Wilson FFI

Context & objectives Programme Speakers Why UNESCO? Partners Top

The Biodiversity Forum will welcome prestigious guests from all over the world and various actors committed to the benefit of biodiversity.

The speakers are presented below in the order of their participation in the event.

/Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.

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