Sustaining Healthy Eco-Systems Worldwide

This video was produced from a partnership between the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association and the University of Saskatchewan, School of Environment and Sustainability funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

UNESCO biosphere reserves are dedicated to balancing economic growth with conservation. They are learning sites, designated by UNESCO through its Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, that offer leadership in their regions by striving to balance the health of natural systems with the needs of growing communities. They succeed thanks to the vision, character and hard work of people determined to leave the world in better shape than they found it—who care about the planet and its limited resources along with the legacy they are leaving future generations. 

Biosphere reserves are commonly thought of as "living laboratories." But we recognize them in Canada as "model regions" that enable us to discover and model best practices and initiatives for sustainability, then share them internationally. The lessons we learn from them have an international influence. 

Far more than just sustainably managed places to live, biosphere reserves serve to support deliberation, dialogue, learning through reflection, knowledge sharing, evaluation and feedback among multiple participants on numerous levels: not only within the biosphere reserves themselves, but across Canada and internationally. In this sense, the biosphere reserve network is a community of practice across a multi-level, multi-partner, international network.

To obtain UNESCO Biosphere Reserve designation, regions must actively: 

  • Foster economic and human development that are socioculturally and ecologically sustainable;
  • Contribute to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems and biodiversity;
  • Provide support for research, monitoring, education and information exchange related to local, national and global conservation and land management.

Stakeholders map-MAB programme and Biosphere Reserves in Canada (Credit: Colleen George)

  • MAB ICC (UNESCO) = MAB Intergovernmental Coordinating Council
  • IACBR (UNESCO) = International Advisory Committee on Biosphere Reserves
  • CBRA = Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association