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Natural Sciences

UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in Lesotho:

In Lesotho, we are currently working on establishing the first ever UNESCO Biosphere Reserve under the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program. Tsehlanyane National Park and Bokong Nature Reserve will form the core areas of the BR. In order to do this, we are cooperating with national bodies such as the ministry of environment, tourism and culture subregional partners as well as the German Commission for UNESCO. In March 2018, Lesotho hosted a subregional MAB workshop with representatives from all Southern African countries facilitated and funded by the German UNESCO Commission.

If you would like to find out more about the state of implementation of MAB and the subregional workshop in Lesotho:

UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Program:

UNESCO endeavours to strengthen the role and potential of the UNESCO-designated biosphere reserves as pilot for research on mitigation and adaptation of climate change, green economies and as sites for collaboration with other similar initiatives. Biosphere Reserves (BRs) further serve to build scientific knowledge and identify best practices for natural resource use and ecosystem management, restoration and rehabilitation.

UNESCO BRs are model regions for sustainable development. They take into account the interests of environmental protection and social and economic development.

Biosphere reserves have three interrelated zones that aim to fulfil three complimentary and mutually reinforcing functions:

  • The core area(s) which are strictly protected ecosystems that contributes to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation ;
  • The buffer zone surrounds or adjoins the core areas, and is used for activities compatible with sound ecological practices that can reinforce scientific research, monitoring, training and education.;
  • The transition area is the part of the reserve where the greatest activity is allowed, fostering economic and human development that is socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable;

If you want to know more about biosphere reserves please visit: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/environment/ecological-sciences/biosphere-reserves/

The general Natural Sciences Program of UNESCO focuses on 2 major sectoral objectives namely:

1.Strengthening science, technology and innovation systems and policies – nationally, regionally and globally:

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20) has confirmed the pivotal role that science, technology and innovation (STI) play in poverty eradication and sustainable development in all its dimensions – economic, social and environmental. All the technological innovation and engendering solutions needed to address challenges such as green growth and employment; environmental degradation and restoration, climate change adaptation, diseases, natural disasters and energy needs are underpinned by the sciences.

UNESCO has an explicit mandate in the sciences, to support Member State’s efforts to reform and upgrade national STI systems and governance.

UNESCO is committed to among others provide technical support to help bridge the gap between STI knowledge and policy and to catalyse member states’ investment in STI. A specific focus will be put on the development of national, regional and grass roots innovation capacities to spur green transformations, encourage creativity and enhance opportunities for youth led applied in novation and employability of youth.

  • In Lesotho, UNESCO assisted in the development of the National STI Policy for 2006 – 2011.;
  • UNESCO also supported Lesotho to carry out a baseline study on Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) in the year 2012 in preparation to the development of national policy on IKS;
  • UNESCO has also supported and will continue its support in building the country’s capacity to monitor and evaluate its performance through STI statistics and indicators.

If you would like to find out more about the state of implementation of MAB and the subregional workshop in Lesotho;

2. Promoting international scientific cooperation on critical challenges to sustainable development:

UNESCO’s Natural Science Programme addresses sustainable development and sustainability issues are at the centre of the international debate as the current patterns of human activity are fundamentally altering Earth’s systems, testing the biophysical limits.

Critical issues being addressed include water security, the ocean, atmosphere and climate and terrestrial systems and biodiversity.

Water Security

Freshwater remains a critical element of security, sustainability, inclusion and peace. Its vital importance continues to increase due to among others population growth, urbanisation and climate change. UNESCO is committed to assisting member states in strengthening the governance and management of the world’s limited freshwater resources within the framework of the strategy “Water Security: Responses to Local, Regional and Global Challenges (2014 – 2021).

In October, 2016, Lesotho was one of the SADC countries that was invited to the UNESCO-SADC Special Session on Water to review the proposed SADC Regional Integrated Water Resources Initiative (SADC-WIN) for building long term resilience to water-food-energy security.

(For more information read the to article published on the blog!