Local businesses are backing the bid to include the Isle of Man as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
If successful, the Island would become the first jurisdiction in its entirety to be awarded UNESCO status, joining an illustrious list of international Biosphere sites such as Ayers Rock in Australia, Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, Cape winelands in South Africa and the Camargue delta in France.
The Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture is co-ordinating the submission which it says will be a way of telling the rest of the world about how well the island brings together a thriving business community, rich cultural heritage, outstanding landscapes and varied wildlife habitats.
Roger Raatgever, chief executive officer of online gaming software provider Microgaming, said: ‘The environment makes a significant contribution to the quality of life people enjoy in the Isle of Man. It was a contributing factor as to why we chose to base the company here – it sets the island apart from other international business centres.’
He added: ‘As a large employer in the Isle of Man, we consider the ability to enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle a vital component in the recruitment and retention of staff.
‘We really encourage our employees to get involved in sports to take advantage of the environment we are fortunate to live in. We think the Isle of Man is unique in that respect and that’s why we would be delighted if the island achieved UNESCO Biosphere status.’
The balanced relationship between people, business and nature will be the main focus of the application to UNESCO.
Peter Longworth, environmental protection officer for sustainability and climate change, is co-ordinating the bid, with a view to submitting nomination papers by July 2014.
He said: ‘There has been a positive response from members of the local business community. They see the UNESCO proposal as an opportunity to become more involved in the management of the Manx environment and wildlife and to give the Isle of Man a reputational boost. We are grateful for the support of companies such as Microgaming and would like to hear from other organisations keen to get involved.’