UK MAB National Committee Meeting
Tuesday 18 January 2000

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The Council Room, Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR
Telephone: 0171 591 3069

(16 February 2000 version)


Mike Roberts Chair
John Ingram Secretary
Carole Bevis British Council
John Box Wardell Armstrong
Dick Butler Institute of Biology
Peter Freer-Smith Forestry Commission
Geoffrey Haley Permanent Delegation of the United Kingdom to UNESCO
Richard Lloyd Countryside Agency
Ian Melville The Scottish Office Agriculture, Environment & Fisheries Dept.
Martin Price ECI, University of Oxford
Roger Pritchard DETR European Wildlife Division
Jane Robertson-Vernhes UNESCO Division of Ecological Sciences
Helen Shaw CEH
David Wardrop UK UNESCO Forum
Nigel de N Winser Royal Geographical Society
Sarah Wright The Royal Society
  1. Welcome and introduction to the UK MAB Committee.
  2. Mike Roberts welcomed all to the meeting and invited a brief round of introductions.

  3. Apologies.
  4. Apologies were noted from Peter Upton (UK National Commission for UNESCO), Peter Bridgewater (UNESCO-MAB), Mark Collins and Jerry Harrison (WCMC), Ruth Cooper (Royal Society), Richard Leafe (English Nature) and Iain Orr (FCO). Carole Bevis and Sarah Wright were welcomed as representatives of Peter Upton and Ruth Cooper, respectively.

  5. Confirmation of Minutes of the last meeting.
  6. Minutes from the Meeting held on 16 February 1999 were accepted as correct.

  7. Matters arising.
  8. Papers as indicated in Action items had be circulated. The only Matter Arising concerned Status of the UK National Commission for UNESCO, covered below.

  9. Status of the UK National Commission for UNESCO.
  10. Geoffrey Haley summarised events concerning the formation of the UK National Commission for UNESCO, the Secretariat for which was established on 6 January 2000 in the Central Bureau of the British Council, Spring Gardens, London. Peter Upton is Acting Secretary General:

    The Foundation Committee developed a "Constitution" that included the creating of five specialist sub-committees: Education, Culture, Science, Communications, and Sustainable Development and Human Rights. The Secretariat is currently developing the Terms of Reference and the arrangements for the appointment of the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the sub-committees. It is anticipated that a list of Chairs and Vice-Chairs, the draft Terms of Reference and outline agendas will be circulated by the end of February. A Council will be established comprising the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of these sub-committees, and others. The 2002/3 UNESCO biennium will see the need for a round of consultations with National Commissions to assess UNESCO’s priorities.

    The Committee recognised David Wardrop’s considerable efforts in helping the UK National Commission for UNESCO to come about.

    David Wardrop expressed his pleasure at the outcome and congratulated David Stanton and Geoffrey Haley on their efforts. He expressed the hope that there might be 5 "shadow chairs" for the Council, one per UNESCO Science Programme, and also felt there was a need to consider how the UK MAB National Committee could be more proactive. He closed by saying he felt it appropriate to "bow out" of the Committee at this stage.

    Mike Roberts noted that there are four active National Committees for UNESCO science programmes in the UK: IGCP, IHP, IOC and MAB. These should feed into the National Commission, although it was noted that the UK Government had rejected that Chairs be included in the National Commission. Geoffrey Haley noted the hope that the Commission be somewhat "elastic", and that Chairs of the science programme’s committees might be co-opted onto the Science sub-committee. This might be discussed during the February 2000 meeting of the Forum, hopefully to be co-hosted by the National Commission.

    ACTION: UK National Commission for UNESCO to give details of Chairs of Commission sub-committees to the Chairs of UK National Committees for UNESCO science programmes, when available.

  11. Summary reports on Declaration of the World Conference of Science (adopted by the General Conference as 30C Resolution 20); (ii) the agenda for action (30 C Resolution 21); and (iii) the Joint Statement by the five Chairpersons of UNESCO’s science programmes.
  12. Jane Robertson noted two emphases of the Declaration of the World Conference of Science: (i) Science education and increasing public awareness of the general scientific knowledge; and (ii) The value of traditional knowledge (but noted that the Royal Society and US National Academy of Sciences differentiated between pseudo sciences (e.g. astrology) and real science (e.g. local scientific knowledge). UNESCO has a comparative advantage on links between education and science, particularly regarding helping young scientists. The Joint Statement by the "Five Chairs" shows commitment for improved collaboration and integration between UNESCO’s science programmes in the 21st Century; and in preparation for "Rio + 10". The role that the UK MAB Committee could play in the "Rio + 10" process needs to be considered.

    Peter Bridgwater has been confirmed as Director of the MAB programme. The mid-January 2000 MAB Bureau meeting will be considering MAB’s future. An Expert Meeting to undertake a "Seville + 5" review of BR issues will be considered (proposed for 6-16 November 2000). It was noted that, in contrast to the UK MAB Committee whose mandate is broader, this review will not consider wider MAB issues. Mike Roberts noted the need to establish the balance in MAB between BRs and other components.) A UNESCO Conference "Biosphere and Society", will be held in the University of Columbia, USA in April 2001.

    In noting that some UNESCO initiatives are being taken over by other organisations, David Wardrop questioned whether UNESCO was working effectively in the area of Education for Sustainability, and noted the need for greater links with UNESCO in this important area. David Wardrop also noted that the role of the Urban Forum would be clearer when the MOST National Committee is established.

    ACTION: Jane Robertson to circulate MAB Bureau Meeting Report to all National Committees asap, and table in background papers at EuroMAB 2000.

    ACTION: John Ingram to circulate MAB Bureau Meeting Report to UK MAB Committee members asap.

  13. EuroMAB 2000: First Joint Meeting of Biosphere Reserve Coordinators and National Committees (Cambridge; Monday 10 - Friday 14 April 2000).
  14. Martin Price summarised the programme, noting the background for the joint meeting, and that the BR survey could be valuable material for the "Seville + 5" review. The potential for promoting an educational aspect in the Conference by including a possible workshop discussion on the use of BRs in Educational activities was noted. Speakers need to be invited quickly. All members of the UK MAB Committee are welcome to the whole event.

    The suggestions from the US MAB Committee on possible "Actions" MAB might adopt were tabled. Jane Robertson’s office will solicit and collate similar lists from other National Committees, for tabling for discussion at the Conference.

    The Committee noted the funding situation. Confirmed sponsors (DETR, WCMC, British Council and UNESCO) were thanked. The priority of securing the Participation Programme grant was noted and Committee members invited to make suggestions of other possible donors. The possibility of 1- or 2-day tickets needs to be considered again.

    Martin Price’s offered support of three graduate students for general Conference duties was noted with thanks. (They would look after their own accommodation.)

    ACTION: Mike Roberts to write to Michael Meacher, inviting a DETR Minister to open the Conference, noting a flexible approach to the actual timing of the speech.

    ACTION: Martin Price, Jane Robertson and John Ingram to determine invitees.

    ACTION: John Ingram to approach British Council re sponsorship.

    ACTION: Geoffrey Haley to approach DfID East Europe Section re sponsorship.

    ACTION: All UK Committee Members to forward suggestions of possible MAB Actions to John Ingram for collation and sending to Jane Robertson.

  15. UK Urban Forum.
  16. The Committee noted the report of the 99/00 work programme. It was agreed that Topic 5 would now not be attached to the EuroMAB 2000 Conference.

    John Box reported the general interest in the UK in the UK Urban Forum. The problem many people experienced in attending all the meetings could be eased by better use of the WWW. Greater input from the MAB Secretariat in Paris would be welcome, as would links to other Urban Fora in EuroMAB and elsewhere.

    The Committee noted the need for funds for (i) a workshop "MAB-Logo" Urban Forum sites, and (ii) an Expert Seminar (with CEH-Monks Wood - contact: Mark Hill) on Recombinant Ecology. The benefits of a clearer title than "Recombinant Ecology", and a possible link to a BES meeting were noted.

    Jane Robertson noted that the UK Urban Forum has no international dimension, but informed the Committee that a Task Force on BRs and Urban Areas would be considered by the MAB Bureau. DETR is interested in the Urban Forum for the development of local action plans.

    ACTION: John Box to liaise with Helen Shaw about Urban Forum material on the UK MAB WWW site.

    ACTION: John Ingram to invite John Box to give (or nominate someone to give) a 15 min presentation at EuroMAB 2000, and to present a poster on the work of the Urban Forum.

  17. Review of the UK Biosphere Reserves.
  18. Martin Price reported that the BR Report had been endorsed by UNESCO’s BR Advisory Committee. Roger Pritchard reported that devolution and general bureaucracy had complicated progress in publishing the Report, but that it could now be disseminated.

    Using the Review as a background, a consultative exercise should determine whether the BRs should continue, and/or whether new candidates could be considered, especially in areas of high biogenic resources (the New Forest is an example of a possible addition). A small discussion meeting would be convened by DETR prior to a workshop in the autumn 2000 to consider possible additions. In England this would be coordinated with English Nature, with an parallel exercise being conducted in Scotland. The UK MAB Committee could report the outcomes to the 2001 MAB Bureau Meeting, so the UK position could then be taken up by the UNESCO Council in 2002.

    ACTION: John Ingram/Helen Shaw to publish the Report on the UK MAB WWW site.

  19. Northern Sciences Network.
  20. While this is not seen as a main component of MAB, it should be discussed in the EuroMAB 2000 Conference.

    ACTION: John Ingram to invite Fred Roots to speak on NSN at Conference.

  21. UNESCO Sultan Qaboos Prize.
  22. Now it is formalised, it was agreed that the UK National Commission for UNESCO would be the appropriate body to deal with this.

    ACTION: John Ingram to discuss with Peter Upton.

  23. MAB Young Scientists Awards.
  24. Committee members noted the Call for Nominations. Any application should be sent to John Ingram for forwarding to Peter Upton.

    ACTION: All Committee members to disseminate Call for Proposals.

  25. Any other business.

The UK MAB WWW site should have links to other sites as appropriate, e.g. JNCC, National biodiversity Network.

ACTION: All Committee members to send John Ingram/Helen Shaw appropriate links for the UK MAB WWW Site.

Nigel Winser informed the Committee about the RGS Field Centres Network, and the plans to develop a WWW search engine to locate Centres in given regions of the world where visiting researchers would be welcome.

Mike Roberts informed the Committee that Peter Upton had accepted an invitation to join the Committee.

Mike Roberts closed the meeting by thanking the RGS for hosting the Meeting.

The next meeting will be held in mid-January 2001. Details will be circulated nearer the time.

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