Inderscience Publishers

Concept and practice: the case of UNESCO biosphere reserves

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Sustainable development is a globally endorsed principle whose practice is multidimensional and complex. The biosphere reserve as a concept and a tool of UNESCO has an origin in the protected areas domain but has now evolved into an international designation that allows context-specific conservation and development relationships to be developed in land and seascapes where more than 80% of the designated area lies outside of legally protected core zones. As such, each biosphere reserve could be a context-specific experiment in sustainable development at varying scales. The origin and evolution of the concept and practice of biosphere reserves have lessons to offer for future efforts to track changes in the principle and practices of sustainable development. The emphasis, over the next 5?10 years on biosphere reserves as learning laboratories for sustainable development provides interesting opportunities to track such changes in site-specific application of the principle and practices of sustainable development.

Keywords: sustainable development, biosphere reserves, UNESCO MAB, learning, science and policy relations, sustainability

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