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Virtual meeting in September 2020

Under the theme "Mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Reserves of Biosphere in Islands and Coastal Areas", the first virtual meeting of Network’s members was held on the 16th-17th of September, aimed at monitoring the current situation of the Network and communicate the initiatives underway and the last updates. The main topics discussed are briefly summarised below.

Given the impact of the current pandemic crisis, this year a call for projects aimed at mitigating the crisis in island and coastal biosphere reserves around the world has been launched. These projects will be financed with the Network's own funds and will be awarded according to an assessment involving the Jeju and Menorca biosphere reserves, the Autonomous National Parks Agency of Spain, the Korean MAB Committee and the UNESCO MAB Secretariat.

Other initiatives that have been discussed at the meeting are, on the one hand, the forthcoming edition of the MICRO2020 international conference: Fate and impacts of Microplastics: Knowledge and Responsibilities (, which is organized virtually with headquarters in Lanzarote and where biosphere reserves are called to participate; and on the other hand, the proposal to elaborate a questionnaire addressed to the managers of the Network's reserves to evaluate the impacts that the situation of COVID-19 is generating, both at the level of management structures and at the territorial, social and economic level. It will also serve to compile the innovative and inspiring initiatives or processes that are taking place to alleviate the situation, which could serve as experiences that can be replicated on a larger scale.

The status of the Project on the Value of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves as a Source of Carbon Sink", which is being carried out by the Jeju secretariat with the collaboration of the islands of Menorca, Mauritius and Principe, was also presented. Another study in progress is the comparison by means of indicators of the islands of Menorca, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and Eivissa; this study is being developed by the Socio-Environmental Observatory of Menorca (OBSAM) and may serve in the future to extend the comparison to other islands in the Network.

A very interesting part of the meeting has been to share the experiences and situations lived in the different reserves regarding the health crisis. Most of them are strongly affected in the tourism services and employment of local populations, and facing different problems related to the confinement such as education services, food supply, energy or drinking water. Some interesting initiatives are already underway for the recovery towards a better normality than before, and their follow-up will be interesting in order to integrate and make accessible the knowledge accumulated and the lessons learned throughout this situation.

One aspect that is causing concern beyond the current health situation is the growing problem of forest fires, aggravated by climate change.

The meeting on 16th, in English, was attended by participants from Palawan (Philippines), Mauritius, Commander Islands (Russia), Isle of Man, Cascade Head (USA), Sulawesi Island (Indonesia), Garden Route (South Africa), Yakushima Island (Japan), Prince Island (Sao Tome & Principe), Cu Lao Cham-Hoi An (Vietnam), Socotra Archipelago (Yemen), Jeju Island (South Korea), Archipelago Sea Area (Finland), Urdaibai and Menorca (Spain).

On the 17th, the meeting was held in Spanish, with the participation of the biosphere reserves of Cozumel, Islands of the Gulf of California (Mexico), Juan Fernández Archipelago (Chile), Mata Atlántica (Brazil), Parque Costero del Sur (Argentina), PN Sierra Nevada Santa Marta and Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta (Colombia) Iles et Mer d'Iroise (France), Lanzarote, Mariñas Coruñesas and Menorca (Spain), among others.

The Autonomous Body for National Parks, responsible for the Spanish biosphere reserves, which supports the Network's activities, and the secretariat of the UNESCO MAB programme, based in Paris, have also participated.

The Network currently joins more than 90 biosphere reserves on the five continents, as can be seen on the map at, and it acts as a forum for the transfer of experiences and knowledge to tackle the climate crisis and global change.


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World Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves The World Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves was launched in 2009 by UNESCO MAB Programme to foster sustainable development in islands and coastal areas and to promote adaptation and mitigation strategies on climate change. ABOUT
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