Biosphere Citizen Bridges: Citizens as partners towards sustainable development within UNESCO Biosphere Reserves

Isle of Man Biosphere Reserve photo supplied by Allan Brown of Braaid Circle

Assist Social Capital CIC and Insights US have been supported by the EU to implement a project aimed at generating action-led advice from citizens, to support sustainable economic development within UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.

The project is based on inclusive decision-making via an online platform. The platform will collate activities, ideas, and the collective wisdom of citizens and other key stakeholders on how they can be supported to take an effective role to deliver change and progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Lima Action Plan, which sets out a global agenda for UNESCO Biospheres Reserves for the next ten 10 years, recognises the contribution of entrepreneurs and social enterprises to the Biosphere Reserve (C6). With over 600 Biosphere Reserves worldwide, there is a wealth of knowledge and experience to showcase sustainable living around the world. The project will focus on how communities, businesses and social enterprises can be supported by their UNESCO Biosphere Reserve designation to accelerate and incubate progress towards a sustainable economy.

The project is inviting participants to offer their thoughts and ideas on the question: “How could the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (BR) designation help citizens contribute to inclusive and sustainable economic growth in their community? And how can businesses and social enterprises benefit and play a role?asked by Colin Campbell, Co-leader of the Social Enterprise and Biosphere Reserve Network.

Some contributions so far:

Many biospheres are areas of outstanding natural beauty, but the real highlights are the communities who are willing to work together to improve and sustain social, environmental and economic well-being.”Natasha Hutchison, Wester Ross Biosphere Reserve

Social Enterprises can be an interesting model, especially because of their explicit social/natural aims and because of their commitment to reinvest surpluses to achieve this.” Silvia Sacchetti, Trento University

“If the product of that enterprise is marketed outside the biosphere it will be able to operate as an ambassador for the biosphere and its values. If it basically serves the biosphere community, it will reinforce the sense of focus on the factors and values that have supported the designation.”Shelagh Hourahane, Cletwr Social Enterprise

The platform welcomes anyone to contribute, from local people, social entrepreneurs, social enterprises and business owners, to biosphere reserve managers, and local authorities. The insights generated will then be collated into a Community Insights Report for decision-makers and citizens and will made available on the open-access OASIIS Platform.

Your ideas can help UNESCO Biosphere Reserves enable citizens, entrepreneurs and social enterprises to create sustainable solutions and economic opportunity within Biosphere Reserves.

The project is seeking your advice and ideas until 20th October! Share your insights for our common future here: