The Workshop, which was organized by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), brought together 25 participants from Ghana, Nigeria, Benin, Togo and the Ivory Coast; however representatives from Liberia could not attend due to the on-going Ebola epidemic.
Biosphere reserves are sites established by countries and recognized under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme to promote sustainable development based on local community efforts and sound science.
Biosphere reserves are thus globally considered as sites of excellence where new and optimal practices to manage nature and human activities are tested and demonstrated, tools to help countries implement the results of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and, in particular, the Convention on Biological Diversity and its Ecosystem Approach and learning sites for the UN Decade on Education for Sustainable Development.
Globally there are 631 biosphere reserves in 119 countries, including 14 trans-boundary sites; Africa has 54 of them of which two are in Ghana; namely the UNESCO Bia Biosphere in the Western Region and the Songor Ramsar Site in the Greater Accra Region.
Mr Tirso A. S. Dos Santos, UNESCO Head and Representative to Ghana in his opening remark said 2015 is the UN International Year of Light, which seeks to recognize the importance of raising global awareness of how light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture, and health.
?When we talk of light we are talking about energy, so the onus of tomorrow, our future will depend on how we consume and use energy,? he said.
He said the availability of energy to people will decrease the pressure on biospheres; hence there was the need for scientific researchers to devise more efficient and sustainable sources of energy for the people and energy saving strategies to help preserve the biosphere.
Talking about the Carbon Emission, Mr Santos urged African countries to abide by the Kyoto Protocol by partaking in the carbon market trade in an attempt to mitigate future climate change.
Dr Osu I. Otu, UNESCO Multisectoral Regional Office, Abuja, National Programme Officer, called on participating countries to create more trans-boundary biosphere sites to help protect the environment.
He commended Ghana for taking the bold initiative to create a third biosphere centre in the near future, which according to him should be emulated by other countries.