Ministry of Climate Change in collaboration with UNESCO, Pakistan Museum of Natural History (PMNH) & EvK2CNR, jointly organized two days “Capacity Building Workshop for Preparation of Nomination Dossiers of Biosphere Reserves in Pakistan” from 09-10 October, 2017 at PMNH, Islamabad. The representatives from all provinces/regions, research institutes, public sector universities, civil society and relevant stakeholders participated in the workshop. The inaugural ceremony was attended by Secretary, Climate Change Division, Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation, Director General, PMNH, Scientific Representative, EvK2CNR and Joint Secretary (International Cooperation) Climate Change Division, Islamabad. Syed Abu Ahmad Akif, Secretary, Climate Change Division outlined the importance of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Program (MAB) and emphasized on the need of setting up new biosphere reserves in Pakistan, keeping in view the negative impacts of climate change, population growth, environmental deterioration and biodiversity loss.
2. UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Programme had officially been launched in 1971. MAB is an intergovernmental scientific programme that aims to establish a scientific basis for the improvement of relationship between people and their environment. MAB combines the natural and social sciences, economics and education to improve upon human livelihoods in an equitable manner of benefits sharing in order to safeguard natural and managed ecosystems. This employs promoting innovative approaches for economic development that are socially and culturally appropriate and environmentally sustainable. The World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR), currently counts 669 sites in 120 countries all over the world, including 20 trans-boundary sites. Pakistan owns two UNESCO declared biosphere reserves namely i.e Lal Suhanra National Park Biosphere Reserve (1977) and Ziarat Juniper Forests Biosphere Reserve (2013).
3. The subject of Man and Biosphere Programme had been transferred to Ministry of Climate Change, in 2016. The 4th Meeting of National MAB Committee was held in February, 2017 at Ministry. During meeting, the need was felt to launch a comprehensive capacity building programme on developing nomination dossiers of biosphere reserves in Pakistan.
4. The nomination dossier of a potential site to be declared as biosphere reserve is the fundamental requirement of UNESCO MAB-ICC. The nomination dossier during its preparation links various concepts i.e description of ecological/ climatic conditions of the site, socio-economic pattern, cultural aspects, gender, youth and civil society contribution in management activities, wildlife and biodiversity conservation, community participation in biosphere reserves activities, stakeholders engagement and entrepreneurship development of reserves. The preparation of biosphere nomination form is a coordinated activity that requires demonstration of the balanced relationship between humans and ecosystem. The workshop was designed to build capacity on development of nomination dossiers while keeping into consideration the knowledge of supporting UN/international policy documents i.e UNESCO’s Statuary Framework Regulations-1995, Seville Strategy-1998, Madrid Action Plan (2008-2013), MAB Strategy (2015-2025) and Lima Action Plan (2016-2025). Mr. Ashiq Ahmad Khan, Scientific Representative, EvK2CNR, Dr. Muhammad Rafique, Director General, PMNH, Mr. Raza Shah , Programme Officer, Natural Sciences Division, UNESCO, Dr. Masood Arshad, WWF, Dr. Khalid Mahmood, PMNH and Mr. Shafqat Abbas, Section Officer, Ministry of Climate Change were the main resource persons to organize this workshop.
5. At the end of workshop, joint declaration statement was unanimously adopted. The statement elaborates that the process of establishing Indus Dolphin Biosphere Reserve may be under taken on priority basis. Other potential sites may be identified covering major ecological zones, including sites in inter- provincial areas and their nomination dossiers be prepared for designation as biosphere reserves by UNESCO. Work on the sites that were identified by the National MAB Committee in its meeting held on 2nd February, 2017 must be started and their dossiers be developed latest by 2018. In order to facilitate the implementation of National MAB Committee decisions, a Cell/Unit may be set up at Ministry of Climate Change. In order to improve upon the coordination level between the Ministry of Climate Change/National MAB Committee and provincial governments, the provincial MAB Committees must be established at the earliest.