8th Meeting of the South and Central Asia MAB Network (SACAM) on Biosphere Reserves and Sustainable Development

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The 8th SACAM Meeting was jointly organized by Kazakhstan National Commission for UNESCO and ISESCO, Kazakhstan National MAB Committee, SACAM Secretariat, ECO Science Foundation (ECOSF) and Al-Farabi Kazakh National University from 24-25 October 2016 at Almaty, Kazakhstan. The objectives of the meeting were to indicate priority directions of the Lima Action Plan (LAP) with a prime focus on SACAM strategy for its implementation considering the regional concerns and realities; identify challenges, common for the region; discuss methods to overcome those challenges; find and discuss success stories. The meeting was attended by more than sixty national and international participants and ECOSF was represented by two member delegation i.e., Prof. Dr. Manzoor H. Soomro, President and Ghulam Abbas, Assistant Director (Programmes).

Secretary-General of the National Commission of the Republic of Kazakhstan for UNESCO and ISESCO Mrs. Assel UTEGENOVA from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan gave the introductory remarks and thanked the participants for attending the meeting.

The meeting was opened by Mr. Galymkair MUTANOV, Rector of Al-Farabi Kazakh National University. He welcomed all the national and international participants and appreciated the organizers for organizing the meeting and addressing the very important topic of Biosphere Reserves and Sustainable Development. He hoped that there will be a tangible outcome after the meeting with reference to its subject. Afterwards, the Chairman of Kazakh MAB Committee Dr. Roman Jashenko, President ECOSF, Secretary SACAM Dr. Raam Boojh and Ms. Marie PRCHALOVA from the MAB Secretariat in UNESCO Headqurters read the message of the Secretary MAB Dr. Qunli HAN.

President ECOSF Prof. Dr. Manzoor H. Soomro in his remarks thanked the National Commission of the Republic of Kazakhstan for UNESCO and ISESCO, Kazakhstan MAB Committee and Al-Farabi University for hosting subject meeting in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Prof. Soomro said that the main purpose of this meeting was to discuss the Lima Action Plan 2016 which is the successor of the Madrid Action Plan for implementation of UNESCO MAB Programme, other goal was to bring on board other countries which are members of ECO to benefit from the experience of SACAM Member States colleagues. President Soomro further said that ECO Science Foundation (ECOSF) is a specialized agency of Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) having the status of intergovernmental organization promoting the Science, Technology & Innovation (STI) and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education in the Region following Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE) approach together with our international cooperation/partners viz. LAMAP of France and ISTIC as well as IAP SEP. He also mentioned that IBSE was launched from Kazakhstan with capacity building of Policy Makers and Trainers in Astana from 22-25 June 2015. President ECOSF apprised the meeting that ECOSF is very much active and alive to UN SDGs and it is matter of happiness that the Al-Farabi University Kazakhstan (KazNU) is also active in promoting SDGs. Keeping in view the importance of SDGs, ECOSF is going to launch a competition on SDGs with the title “AppIdea2R” among University students of ECO Member Countries and hoped that KazNU would also join ECOSF in promoting the competition. He also mentioned that ECOSF is collaborating/supporting with Islamic Development Bank in a reverse linkages project “Developing the Capacities of Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Kazakhstan in Phytochemical Development by the International Center for Chemical and Biological Science (ICCBS), under the University of Karachi, Pakistan”. He hoped that SACAM Network meeting would be a great occasion for strengthening the networking among participating nations and that participants will benefit from each others experiences for developing future collaboration/cooperation around the MAB programme..

Ms. Marie PRCHALOVA, Science Programme Specialist of MAB Research and Policy, Ecology and Biodiversity, UNESCO HQ, read the message on behalf of UNESCO Director Mr. Qun Li HAN. In the message, he said that 8th SACAM meeting has been well timely placed as it is aimed to elaborate and agreed on recommendations to implement Lima Plan (LAP) in the context of SACAM region. The message further said, that the region has a solid base to enforce the Lima Action Plan. A special SACAM workshop organized during the 4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves in Lima this year (March) discussed strategies for cooperation within countries in the region in line with the LAP and came with an initial set of key recommendations to implement the LAP in the SACAM area. He also mentioned in this message that the Silk Road initiative in which some countries of the SACAM network can play an important role. In this context, the workshop in Lima Congress on "The Silk Road: Connecting Biosphere Reserves for Sustainable Development" was focused on building a transcontinental network of Biosphere Reserves and presenting the many possibilities and opportunities it offers in order to facilitate international connectivity and cooperation towards the delivery of the global Agenda 2030.

Assistant Director (Programmes) ECOSF made a presentation on “STI Research and Education Programmes of ECOSF for Sustainable Development” in the meeting. He firstly introduced ECO Science Foundation, its aims & objectives, activities, programmes as well as strategic steps and international partners. Highlighting the importance of Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE), he shared the contribution of ECOSF in Capacity Building of the teachers as well as the trainers to promote IBSE. In his presentation he also shared the initiative taken by ECOSF STI and SDGs nexus- The “AppIdea2R” Contest.

In the meeting, Mr. Roman JASHENKO of MAB Committee Kazakhstan, Dr. (Ms.) Amita PRASAD of India and Mr. Ram Prasad CHAUDHARY of Nepal were elected as Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and Rapporteur respectively for SACAM for next biennium period.

Every member country present including ECO member countries namely, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan (host), Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan made the presentations and shared the statistics about Biosphere Reserves of respective countries in detail. The work done by the member countries in the field of Biosphere Reserves and climate change was very encouraging.

The participants also visited different labs of Al-Farabi University of Kazakhstan on 25 October 2016 and some presentations were also made to them by the university. The Diploma Certificate was awarded to Kazakhstan by UNESCO for declaring new Biosphere Reserves “Barsakelmes Biosphere Reserves” located at Aral Sea region. The new Biosphere Reserve was recommend during the 4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves held in Lima from 14-17 March 2016 and approved by UNESCO’s International Coordination Committee (ICC) in its meeting held on 18-19 March 2016.

It is pertinent to mention that with the efforts of ECOSF, three ECO Countries namely; Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan were accepted as full members of SACAM Network; whereas, Azerbaijan was given status of Observer during the meeting.

The meeting also amended the Statutes of SACAM Network and prepared recommendations for endorsement by the member countries later on.

The meeting was ended with vote of thanks by Mrs. Assel UTEGENOVA, Secretary-General of the National Commission of the Republic of Kazakhstan for UNESCO and ISESCO.

A field trip to Ile-Alatau National Nature Park – Potential BR, was also organized in the morning of 26 October 2016 for those participants who had the delayed flights. The visitors were briefed about the history of the Park, its species of plants, animals, lakes, etc through pictures and models. The visitors shown keen interest in the Park and enjoyed the field trip.

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