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Sustainable development and sustainable management in biosphere reserves: Guide published

Biosphere reserves (BR) intend to be model regions for sustainable development and to promote sustainable operating and business concepts. What this means in the context of international sustainability goals such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and national criteria for the recognition and evaluation of BR of the German UNESCO National Committee has been elaborated by the Institute for Rural Development Research in a guide.

The guide, published in the scripts series of the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), contains an assessment framework for sustainable development and management. It defines assessment questions that can also be used to guide action. Indicators operationalize the assessment questions. In addition, the guideline includes five tools to support biosphere reserve administrations and regional stakeholders in promoting sustainable management. These include

  • a sustainability check to identify challenges and progress of sustainable development in their own BR
  • a workshop format to discuss sustainable development and management opportunities with regional stakeholders
  • suggested target indicators for BR frameworks and other regional strategies related to sustainability
  • reporting building blocks for BR for periodic review by UNESCO
  • communication building blocks to present regional contributions of BR to the SDGs and to be able to communicate them to the public or to a specialized audience.

The guideline is a result of the R+D project Quality Assurance in German Biosphere Reserves. The assessment framework was applied and tested in the BR Berchtesgadener Land, Südost-Rügen and Spreewald, the tools were developed based on the experiences and further developed in a workshop with representatives of German BR.

The guide can be downloaded as an accessible PDF document from the BfN script page (in German). Biosphere reserve administrations can request the working materials in MS Word or PPT format from the office of the MAB National Committee.

Contact persons at the IfLS: Ulrich Gehrlein (gehrlein[at] and Christoph Mathias (mathias[at]