Leah Barclay | 4th World Congress of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, Lima, Peru
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4th World Congress of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, Lima, Peru

4th World Congress of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, Lima, Peru

In March 2016, Dr. Leah Barclay was invited to deliver a keynote on her current research at the 4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves in Lima, Peru. Occurring every six years, this event is a world meeting of the Committees of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Program (MAB) and experts directly involved in the practical implementation of biosphere reserves globally. The Congress addressed different issues related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Post 2015 Development Agenda, such as education for sustainable development and innovative approaches to the conservation of biological and cultural diversity.

Leah delivered a keynote address in the Pacific Man and the Biosphere Regional Network Stream (PacMAB) exploring methods of inspiring resilient communities through creativity. This presentation featured a range of projects and showcased international biosphere reserves and case studies from the Pacific region. She was invited to represent the Asia-Pacific region in the closing panel and present the feedback for the Lima Action Plan to the MAB Committee and congress delegation.

Leah also presented during the ‘Designing Interdisciplinary University Courses for Biosphere Reserves’ session which focused on the educational frameworks developed through Biosphere Soundscapes, a project Leah founded in 2012. Biosphere Soundscapes is a large-scale interdisciplinary research project underpinned by the creative possibilities of acoustic ecology and rapidly emerging fields of biology concerned with the study of environmental patterns and changes through sound. This project is designed to inspire communities across the world to listen to the environment and explore the value of sound as a measure for environmental health in UNESCO biosphere reserves. Biosphere Soundscapes is delivered through immersive residencies with artists and scientists, research laboratories, intensive masterclasses and a diversity of creative projects spanning four continents.

Biosphere reserves are sites recognised under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Program (MAB) to promote innovative approaches to sustainable development. There are currently 669 biosphere reserves in 120 countries comprising terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems. Each biosphere reserve is designed and managed in a different way, but all seek to reconcile the conservation of biological and cultural diversity. They differ from world heritage sites in that they encourage active community participation and are ideal locations to test and demonstrate innovative approaches to ecosystem monitoring and sustainable development. Biosphere Soundscapes draws on the inherently interdisciplinary nature of sound to explore cultural and biological diversity through accessible audio recording technologies, interdisciplinary creativity and environmental engagement with local and global communities.

Biosphere Soundscapes sits at the intersection of art and science, with the recordings providing valuable scientific data for biodiversity analysis and incredible source material for creative works that can bring awareness to these environments through new technologies. This project is designed as a platform for artists, scientists and global communities to collaborate and expose the creative and scientific possibilities of environmental sound to a global audience.

As a result of the Congress the Lima Action Plan of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves for 2016-2025 was adopted and many biosphere reserves expressed interest in implementing acoustic ecology projects with Biosphere Soundscapes in the future.

These documents will provide the framework for biosphere reserves across the world in the coming decade.

Download the Lima Declaration here: 

Lima Declaration on the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme and its
World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR)

Download the Lima Action Place here: 

Lima Action Plan for UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme and its
World Network of Biosphere Reserves (2016-2025)