UNESCO-MAB stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization- Man And the Biosphere Program.



UNESCO works to create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values. It is through this dialogue that the world can achieve global visions of sustainable development encompassing observance of human rights, mutual respect and the alleviation of poverty, all of which are at the heart of UNESCO’S mission and activities. In relation to the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve, UNESCO’s goal is to mobilize science knowledge and policy for sustainable development and focus on an interdisciplinary research agenda spanning the ecological, social and economic dimensions of biodiversity loss and its reduction (UNESCO, 2010).

UNESCO incorporates education, science and culture into internationally recognized biosphere reserves. Examples of Education include workshops, promotion of and showcasing best practices. Science includes research and monitoring. In the SNBRA this includes species at risk programs, Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute (MTRI), Parks Canada and Environmental Non-government organizations (ENGO’s). Culture includes showcasing the heritage and the communities living within the SNBR.

Launched in 1971, UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) is an Intergovernmental Scientific Programme that aims to establish a scientific basis for the improvement of relationships between people and their environments.

MAB combines the natural and social sciences, economics and education to improve human livelihoods and the equitable sharing of benefits, and to safeguard natural and managed ecosystems, thus promoting innovative approaches to economic development that are socially and culturally appropriate, and environmentally sustainable.

Its World Network of Biosphere Reserves currently counts 714 biosphere reserves in 129 countries all over the world.

“The MAB program proposes an interdisciplinary research agenda and capacity building aiming to improve the relationship of people with their environment globally. Launched in the early 1970s, it notably targets the ecological, social and economic dimensions of biodiversity loss and the reduction of this loss. It uses its World Network of Biosphere Reserves as vehicles for knowledge-sharing, research and monitoring, education and training, and participatory decision-making” (UNESCO, 2009). Ultimately the program brings people (man) and nature (biosphere) together to create a balance and ultimately sustainability (see diagram below).

There are 669 biosphere reserves distributed between 120 countries, all working toward a common purpose:

  • Reducing loss of biodiversity
  • Improving quality of life
  • Enhancing environmental sustainability