Island is ‘well on the road’ to successful UNESCO Biosphere review

By Gemma Nettle   |   Reporter   |
Monday 21st November 2022 12:30 pm
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Isle of Man Chief Minister Alfred Cannan hosts a briefing on the Omicron variant of Covid-19 (Isle of Man Newspapers )

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The chief minister believes the island is ‘well on the road’ to a successful 10-year review of its UNESCO Biosphere status.

A biosphere is a learning area for sustainable development, focusing on biodiversity.

Having been the first entire nation to become a UNESCO Biosphere region in 2016, there have been a number of changes made since the accreditation to help the island achieve greater sustainability.

Chief Minister Alfred Cannan outlined some of these changes in the Tynwald sitting this week.

He explained the government has introduced climate change legislation and action plans, nine new marine nature reserves, four new areas of special scientific interest, a long-term management plan for the king scallop fisheries, the launch of the Agri-Environment Scheme and Woodland Grant Scheme, and single-use plastic plans for government and the community, with new regulations just brought into the legislation.

Mr Cannan said: ‘UNESCO is also keen that the youth voice is heard, therefore. Building on sending youth representatives to two global biosphere youth conferences, two youth representatives have just been added to the Stakeholder Partnership Group which guides the work and meets twice a year.

‘There have been, so far, a large number of varied projects, small and large, undertaken since the accreditation was achieved in 2016 involving varied community groups and arts projects.’

The government also intends to publish annual reports in the future on its progress.

‘We have for some years held annual awards to showcase the best of the work going on in the community, and we have a growing partnership scheme currently with 322 partners and a further four in the registration process,’ said the chief minister.

‘Some of our partners are using the Biosphere branding and Manx culture and heritage as key elements of their brand marketing.

‘Overall, we are very ambitious amongst the many biospheres and seeking to engage a high variety range of work, in partnership with our varied and creative residents in the Isle of Man working together for a sustainable future.’

Arbory, Castletown and Malew MHK Jason Moorhouse was concerned about the ‘growing decline in the built environment’ amidst these green schemes.

Mr Cannan said: ‘We have launched a Built Environment Reform Programme to really tackle some of the issues in our towns and villages and have started to make progress by ensuring that we have clearer access for developers through to planning, speedier planning decisions on major applications.

‘There is an absolute commitment from this government to ensure that our brownfield sites are properly developed to create sustainable towns and businesses, to bring some density of population back into our towns.’

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