Our Biosphere was honoured to welcome two senior global UNESCO figures this autumn.
Dr Meriem Bouamrane, Programme Specialist with the Man and the Biosphere Programme, based in Paris, came to the Island at our invitation from 30th October to 1st November.
Dr Bouamrane attended a meeting of the UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man Stakeholder Partnership Group, chaired by the Chief Minister. She spoke about the Island’s potential as a Biosphere and of the importance of engaging people and she shared global developments within the organisation.
At a public meeting hosted by Manx National Heritage at the Manx Museum, Dr Bouamrane answered questions on a wide variety of topics including food production and climate change; energy sources; how policy-making aligns to Biosphere and Biosphere’s role in protecting biodiversity.
Dr Bouamrane visited one of the Island’s 21 Areas of Special Scientific Interest, heard about the designation of nine new marine nature reserves in Isle of Man waters and spoke with Manx National Farmers’ Union, Manx Fish Producers’ Organisation and food and drink producers about how they help shape the Biosphere and the opportunities it presents for them.
She also visited Culture Vannin, heard about the dynamic role it plays in linking the past and the future and was delighted to watch talented children perform Hop-tu-Naa songs and dances.
Professor Enny Sudarmonowati, chair of the Biosphere programme’s International Co-ordinating Council, also paid a flying visit to our Biosphere on 27th and 28th November while in the British Isles on UNESCO business.
She, too, attended a special meeting of the Stakeholder Partnership Group, where she outlined her vision for her two years as global chair. This includes getting Biospheres to be more visible, establishing more resources for them to develop, linking them up more closely, ensuring they play a role in the delivery of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and establishing them as platforms for scientific research.
At the meeting, she spoke with Bill Dale BEM, founder of Beach Buddies, winner of the ‘Environment’ award in this year’s inaugural UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man Awards.
She went on to tour the Western Civic Amenity Site, winner of the Energy award, and enjoyed splendid Isle of Man food and drink as lunchtime guest of Knockaloe Beg Farm, winner of the Education and Public Awareness award.
Professor Sudarmonowati also met Chris Clugston, a Port St Mary fisherman and processor and winner of the 2018 Food, Farming and Fisheries Awards. They spoke about the collaboration between the industry and Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture to create sustainable fisheries and its worth to the Island.
Before her departure, the Professor viewed the Manx Wildlife Trust and UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man entry in the Save the Children Festival of Trees at Isle of Man Airport.
Both guests were presented with framed sets of the UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man stamps, produced by the Isle of Man Post Office, as souvenirs of their visits.