The province of Palawan, as part of the Biosphere Reserve Network of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), hosted the 4th Meeting of the World Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves (WINCBR) with the theme Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves under the Impact of Natural Disasters last June 17 to 20, 2014. The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development hosted the event in partnership with the Palawan State University and the Western Philippines University.
The meeting proper was held on June 17 and 18. It highlighted the main challenges and threats facing island and coastal biosphere reserves, including climate change; water, energy and food self‐sufficiency; natural disasters; and waste management. Participants shared their perspectives and experiences including the potential ways in addressing challenges and threats to their respective BRs.
Twenty six (26) Biosphere Reserves from nineteen (19) countries have joined in the said meeting. The participants were led by the Coordinator of the World Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves Dr. Miguel Clüsener-Godt from the Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB). Each of them recognises the uniqueness, fragility and abundance of biodiversity of the island and coastal areas and this makes them vulnerable to climate change and man’s pursuit for development.
The participating countries were:
- Australia: Noosa BR
- Chile: Cabo de Hornos BR
- China: Nanji Islands National Marine Nature Reserve
- Estonia: West Estonian Archipelago BR
- Finland: Archipelago Sea Area BR
- Denmark: North-East Greenland BR
- Haiti: La Salle BR
- Indonesia: Siberut National Park and Wakatobi BRs
- Jamaica: Portland Bright BR
- Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: Mount Chilbo BR
- Republic of Korea: Jeju Island and Gochang BRs
- Maldives: Baa Atoll BR
- Mauritius: Macchabee and Bel Ombre BRs
- Philippines: Palawan BR
- Portugal: Azores Corvo, Flores, and Graciosa and Santana Madeira BRs
- St. Kitts and Nevis: St. Mary’s BR
- Spain: Menorca, Gran Canaria, La Palma, and El Hiero BRs
- Sweden: Blekinge Archipelago BR
- Yemen: Socotra Archipelago BR
The World Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserve was established during the 21st Session of the International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere Programme in 2009 to concentrate on research and training for these BRs with regard to conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of natural resources and mitigation and adaption to climate change. The WNICBR has two technical headquarters that coordinate the networks and work together at the global level. The first is the office in the island of Jeju, Republic of Korea, which focuses on climate change issues and the second is the office in Menorca, Spain, which specializes in sustainable development.
This meeting was organized by the UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme, Jeju Island biosphere reserve, Menorca biosphere reserve and the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development.