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Biosphere Reserves in Southeast Asia share updates on Covid-19 impacts and responses

The Southeast Asian Biosphere Reserve Network (SeaBRnet) met virtually on 26 November 2020 in a special session of the network held to support continued cooperation and exchange among its members during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The meeting focused on ongoing research activities in BR sites as well as impacts of and responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, with participation of around 50 participants representing Biosphere Reserves, Man and the Biosphere (MAB) national committees and research partners from eleven countries across the region. Before opening the discussion, the SeaBRnet Secretariat at UNESCO Office Jakarta sent special greetings and offered support to the Albay Biosphere Reserve in the Philippines, which has been severely impacted by two typhoons in recent weeks.

Representatives from Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, and Thailand presented new research and other activities designed in response to the conditions imposed by the pandemic in their respective countries. The focus was placed on best practices, educational activities, and innovation to combat the negative impacts of the pandemic, with several reports from new and recently designated BR sites.

The presentations demonstrated the ability of Biosphere Reserves to build more resilient and sustainable communities in this current situation. Sustainable communities play a key role in mobilizing local partners, from reviving local economies through targeted development to knowledge sharing among BRs to education and delivery of locally-based goods and services while ensuring the protection of biodiversity.

Guest speakers from the global MAB Youth network and the regional UK-funded Blue Communities research project contributed to the exchange, connecting SeaBRnet with new and emerging developments on the eve of the MAB Programme’s 50th anniversary in 2020.

The next SeaBRnet meeting will be held in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia, in 2021, pending improvements in the pandemic situation across the globe.