Vienna, 10 July 2012 – The International Coordinating Council of the UNESCO "Man and the Biosphere (MAB)" Programme is currently meeting at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris from 9 to 13 July. The governing body has 34 member states and Austria is represented by Günter Köck from the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Günter Köck has just been re-appointed for the third time as Vice-Chair of the international programme after 2004 and 2010 and represents the region Europe and North America in the MAB Bureau. The Bureau is the decision-making body of the programme; other members in addition to the Austrian representative are from Egypt (the first woman at the top of the programme in its 41 year history), Belarus, Mexico, Ivory Coast and Iran. By holding one of the vice-chairs of the MAB Bureau, Austria can continue to contribute its input to one of the most influential UNESCO scientific programmes.
Important steps that are of great relevance also for Austria will be taken at the 24th MAB ICC. One item on the agenda, for example, is Austria’s application for recognition of the “Salzburg Lungau/Carinthian Nockberge“ region as seventh and largest Austrian UNESCO biosphere reserve.
The MAB ICC also decides on the winners of the MAB Young Scientist Awards. These awards are the most important prizes of the MAB programme and presented annually to young scientists for outstanding biosphere research; and for young scientists from developing and emerging countries in particular they are often a way to ensure sound scientific education. Due to budgetary constraints, only ten Young Scientist Awards have been presented each year so far, and so the Austrian National Committee for the MAB Programme, that enjoys a unique position with regard to its research budget, has again decided to fund two additional prizes (just like in the past two years).
The “Man and the Biosphere (MAB)“ Programme of UNESCO was established in 1971 and develops fundamental scientific and application-oriented structures in the field of natural and social sciences in the interest of securing natural habitats and their biodiversity. The objective is sustainable development in the relationship between man and environment: the creation of a balance between the protection of biodiversity, the promotion of economic and social development and the preservation of the respective cultural values. The biosphere reserve network currently consists of 580 biosphere reserves in 114 countries. Austria has six biosphere reserves to date (Wienerwald, Großes Walsertal, among others).
Günter Köck is the coordinator of the international research programmes of the Austrian Academy of Sciences ÖAW that are funded by the Federal Ministry for Science and Research. In addition to his position at the ÖAW, he has been leading the Austrian-Canadian Arctic research project "HighArctic" since 1997. In his capacity of Vice-Chairman of the Bureau of the UNESCO-MAB Programme, he is involved in the advancement and coordination of MAB at international level and the nomination of new biosphere parks.
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