Press releases

19 Jun 2015

The UNESCO Centre for Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves Network starts its activities at the Abertis Foundation headquarters

The UNESCO Centre for Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves Network starts its activities at the Abertis Foundation headquarters

This morning the presentation of the Mediterranean Network of Biosphere Reserves took place in Castellet Castle in Barcelona, the International UNESCO Centre on Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves and headquarters of the Abertis Foundation. 

The event was inaugurated by Federico Ramos, Spain's Secretary of State for the Environment; Qunli Han, Director of UNESCO's Ecological and Earth Sciences Division; Juan Manuel de Barandica, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain to UNESCO; and Josep Maria Coronas, Secretary General of Abertis. 

Also present at the ceremony were Miguel Clüsener-Godt, Chief of Section: MAB Research and Policy at UNESCO; Basilio Rada, head of Spain's National Parks agency; Sergi Loughney, Director of the Abertis Foundation and of the UNESCO Centre; and Martí Boada, coordinator of the Centre. 

The Mediterranean Network of Biosphere Reserves initially numbers 60 reserves in 14 countries: Algeria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia, Spain, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Morocco, Montenegro, Portugal and Tunisia.

With the aim of presenting the Biosphere Reserves that will form part of the Mediterranean Network, a series of monographic works have been prepared that showcase the characteristics and value of each of these spaces in terms of their natural, landscape and cultural heritage. 

To mark the establishment of the network, a debate was held entitled:The two coastlines of the Mediterranean, featuring Josep Roca, sommelier of the restaurant El Celler de Can Roca, Josefina Castellví, an oceanographer; Shlomo Ben Ami, Vice President of the Toledo International Center for Peace; and Munther Haddadin, the former Water and Irrigation minister of Jordan. 

The debate provided a platform for the participants to express their personal and unique visions of the Mediterranean as a meeting place between southern Europe, northern Africa and western Asia, with richly diverse cultures and landscapes and a complex socio-political reality.

The event will continue this afternoon with a working session that will start with a keynote speech by Antonio Troya, a member of the Mediterranean Office of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (UICN), and then continue with the articulation and constitution of the Mediterranean Network of Biosphere Reserves via the approval and signing of the corresponding document by the managers and representatives of the MaB committees of UNESCO.

The second day of the event will take place tomorrow at the Montseny Biosphere Reserve. During a field visit, participants will have the opportunity to find out about a flagship space in terms of management, the unique biogeography of the massif and its cultural heritage elements, as well as successful new socio-economic activities that foster conservation of the landscape.

The debate on climate change is on the political and economic. Also His Holiness Pope Francis referred in a recent encyclical on Environment. In this sense Abertis, company chaired by Salvador Alemany and directed by CEO-Vice President Francisco Reynes, leads a model project between business, environmental and UNESCO, as is the UNESCO International Centre for Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves at the headquarters of the Abertis Foundation in Castellet castle. UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova welcomed the first collaboration between UNESCO and a private company, in this case Abertis, at a recent meeting in Paris with the Spanish King and Queen.