Ghana launches Youth Network to encourage youth engagement in Biosphere Reserves
A national forum on biosphere reserves has taken to enhance awareness on UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme and Ghana’s Ghana’s biosphere reserves.
The forum, held in Ada, Ghana provided stakeholders the platform to network and establish alliances for research purposes and funding, and highlighted the role of stakeholders, particularly the youth, in management of biosphere reserves and their relevance for attaining the SDGs.
Organised by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with support from UNESCO, the forum was held under the theme “Ecosystem Services and Benefit Sharing in UNESCO Biosphere Reserves: Our Role as Stakeholders”.
Biosphere reserves are sites that include terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems that promote solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. The sites are nominated by national governments, and designated under the intergovernmental MAB Programme. After UNESCO designates a site as a Biosphere Reserve, it remains under the sovereign jurisdiction of the country. There are currently 714 biosphere reserves in 129 countries, including 21 transboundary sites. Ghana has three biosphere reserves: Bia Biosphere Reserve, Songor Ramsar Site and Biosphere Reserve and Lake Bosomtwe Biosphere Reserve.
Participants at the forum included members of the Ghana National MAB Committee, representatives from national institutions, traditional leaders, youth groups and the diplomatic community, some virtually via video-conferencing.
Mr. Abdourahamane Diallo, UNESCO’s Representative to Ghana advocated for the need to use multistakeholder, interdisciplinary and holistic approaches when designing management plans for ecosystems. He added that stakeholders must stop working in silos, in order to bring to bear all available expertise towards addressing ecosystem management challenges. He assured participants that UNESCO would continue to support its member states to undertake studies to compare the dynamic interrelationships between natural/near-natural ecosystems and socio-economic processes. In particular, in the context of accelerated loss of biological and cultural diversity with unexpected consequences that affect the ability of ecosystems to continue to provide services critical for human well-being.
The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng reminded participants that humans are integral part of ecosystems, from which they derive a lot of benefits such as food and water, and climate regulatory processes. He added that the term biosphere reserve is not just a designation but a long-term responsibility and project, which must be supported by all stakeholders.
One of the major activities of the forum was the inauguration of a national MAB Youth Network, comprising youth representatives from the three biosphere reserves in Ghana. Among other things, the aim of a MAB Youth Network is to foster research by youth in biosphere reserves and to increase youth involvement in the MAB Programme.