Professor Martin Price, Vice-chair of the UK MAB Committee, and Andy Bell, the Committee’s International Liaison Officer, attended the ICC session in Palembang, Indonesia. A new Bureau was elected, with Prof. Enny Sudormonowati as Chair.
During the meeting, the ICC approved 24 new biosphere reserves, including the first from Moldova and Mozambique, bringing the total membership of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) to 686 in 122 countries. The quality control process instituted in 2013 continues to be effective: the ICC recognised 80 sites from 31 countries as meeting the criteria in the Statutory Framework of the WNBR, and three countries unilaterally withdrew biosphere reserves which do not fulfil the criteria (Australia 5 sites, Netherlands 1, USA 1). The ICC approved terms of reference for a working group on a process of ‘excellence and enhancement of the WNBR’ with the objective of ensuring the long-term quality control of biosphere reserves, to report at the ICC in Paris in 2019.
Recognising the importance of raising awareness of, and support for, biosphere reserves, the ICC approved a MAB Communication Strategy and Action Plan; it is hoped that all biosphere reserves will use this in coming years. The ICC also approved the membership and workplan for the working group on the Technical guidelines for biosphere reserves, which will be developed over the coming two years as an online resource for those working and interested in biosphere reserves. Professor Price has been appointed to this working group.