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Earth Network

On 26 September 2023, at UNESCO headquarters, took place a presentation of the Earth Project Network, an international network of experts who assist countries in need of help in the management of Biosphere Reserves, UNESCO World Heritage sites and Intangible Cultural elements or Geoparks.

Dr Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of the International Geographic Commission (IOC) and Assistant Director General of UNESCO and Ambassador Liborio Stellino, Permanent Representative of Italy to UNESCO, invited the Permanent Delegations of UNESCO Member States to the information meeting. The event was organised with a view to illustrating the goals that have been met so far and to expand the reach of the project by providing information on how to benefit from the program and to participate in its financing and how to become part of the international network of experts.

Promoted by the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program secretary, the program has been financed by Italy through its Ministry of Environment and Energy Security, who attended the event with a delegation composed of the Counsellor to the Minister of Environment, Roberta Toffanin, the General Director for Natural Heritage and Sea, Oliviero Montanaro, and the Head of the UNESCO MAB National Technical Committee, Pier Luigi Petrillo.

António Abreu de Sousa, Head of the Ecological Science and Earth Division and Secretary of the MAB Program, presented the project underlining the tools used by the program to meet the set goals: on-camp missions, training through free-access online courses (MOOCs), webinars, workshops and publications.

The representatives of over 70 countries took part in the event that was broadcasted to UNESCO Regional Offices.

While inviting countries to seize the opportunity to benefit from the project, Ambassador Stellino underlined that: “This project is particularly interesting for countries that may not have the necessary skills or an immediate availability of expertise in specific and emergency circumstances. It is an innovative and intersectional project that enhances the protection of the environment while having positive impacts on local communities, helping the development of natural food production in a spirit of sustainable growth that combines socio-economic development with the protection of the environment.”

In order to illustrate the tangibility of the Earth Network program, the results of the first phase of the project were presented. The Permanent Representative of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Ambassador Doyle, shared the testimony of the first country to have benefited from the project, underlining the lessons learned and the good practices.

Finally, the information meeting presented the possible future developments and the potential of the project. The Earth Network contributes to the creation of the UNESCO Biodiversity Portal, a database for the collection and sharing of good practices and it will allow meeting global goals such as the Paris Agreement Climate goals, the UN 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development goals, and the ones set by the Biodiversity Global Framework adopted in Montreal last December.