UNESCO conservation of natural resources

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is a specialized organization within the United Nations that promotes international cooperation in the fields of science, education and culture. UNESCO’s mission is to contribute to the building of a culture of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information. Headquartered in Paris, UNESCO has 193 Member States involved in the work of this organization within some of its 5 major programmes: education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture, communication and information. http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/themes/major-programmes/

Within the framework of the natural sciences programme, UNESCO has developed several programmes on the conservation of natural resources, such as Man and the Biosphere Programme - MaB and International Geoscience and Geoparks Programme - IGGP.

About the programme "Man and the Biosphere - MaB"

Man and the Biosphere Programme – MaB is an international initiative, the main objective of which is to define and apply the scientific basis for establishing a long-term harmonious relationship between man and nature, based on the rational use of natural resources, that is, a relationship which is aimed at establishing a functional model of nature conservation through achieving a harmonious relationship between people and their developmental needs in connection with nature.

The exemplary areas for defining this model are the Biosphere Reserves, internationally recognized protected areas of exceptional quality, both natural and cultural, with preserved nature, rich culture and the traditional way of life of the local population. Biosphere reserves are aimed at achieving a sustainable balance between often conflicting biodiversity conservation goals and economic development, and are the key to finding and promoting biodiversity conservation solutions and its sustainable utilization. Currently, 701 Biosphere Reserves have been designated worldwide in 124 countries. Two Biosphere Reserves have been designated in the Republic of Serbia within the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme: Golija-Studenica (2001) and Bačko Podunavlje (2017).


About the programme "Geoparks"

Geopark is a territory of clearly defined boundaries within which, in addition to the geo-heritage sites that are testimonies of our planet's history, all other natural and cultural-historical sites of exceptional importance for science, education, culture, economy and tourism are being protected, presented and promoted. Activities in the geopark are aimed at informing the general public about the diverse natural and cultural values of the area through the development of tourism and with the aim of improving the social status of local population by stimulating their economic development and improving the protection of natural and cultural heritage.

The European Geoparks Network (EGN) was established in 2000 to protect geodiversity, to present geo-heritage sites to the general public, and to support the sustainable economic development of rural areas within geoparks, primarily through the development of geological tourism. The network brought together areas across Europe that shared the same goals, which opened up the possibility of coordinated, collaborative engagement and comparative methods of studying the basic values of geoparks.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) took the initiative at international level in 2001 to support Geoparks. Subsequently, in 2004, UNESCO established The Global Geoparks Network (GGN) to improve the management of areas around the world, which integrated sites with significant geo-heritage, by means of applying the strategies for regional socio-economic development.

The World Geoparks Network works in synergy with the World Heritage Convention, as well as with the Man and the Biosphere (MAB), the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

In 2001, UNESCO partnered with the European Geoparks Network. As a result of this partnership, the European Geoparks Network began to coordinate the membership of the World Geoparks Network in Europe.

About the programme "World Heritage"

In addition, UNESCO implements the International Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, which is one of the most ratified international agreements with 193 signatory countries. The implementation of this Convention is carried out by the World Heritage Programme, one of the most distinguished of all UNESCO’s programmes. A UNESCO World Heritage Center was established in 1992 in Paris as the main focal point and coordinator within UNESCO for all matters related to World Heritage. https://whc.unesco.org/en/world-heritage-centre/

Within the World Heritage Programme, UNESCO, on behalf of the international community, is in charge of cultural and natural resources (sites) possessing exceptional characteristics that would otherwise be at risk of deterioration and extinction, all for the sake of their preservation for future generations. In order to provide better insight and presentation of World Heritage to the public, UNESCO has established a World Heritage List, which lists sites under two categories: World Cultural Heritage and World Natural Heritage. So far, 1092 sites have been listed on the World Heritage List, which are in the territory of 167 countries of the world, of which 845 are cultural heritage sites, while only 209 are natural heritage sites and 38 are mixed sites that include both natural and cultural world heritage. https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/ So far, 5 World Cultural Heritage Sites have been designated on the territory of the Republic of Serbia, while there are no World Natural Heritage Sites yet. However, in 2019, a nomination for the extension of the transboundary natural heritage area “Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe” was prepared. In Serbia this area includes the sites in the regime of protection of the first level within the national parks Tara, Kopaonik and Fruška Gora, the enlisting of which in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List is expected in 2021.