Communication is how we engage our stakeholders in meaningful ways to inspire them, share the pride of our collective achievements and empower people to take responsibility and action. In the MAB programme and its World Network of Biosphere Reserves, the role of communicators is to engage people on what a biosphere reserve is, how the network works and why it is important to others. Inspiring local stakeholders with the value of the biosphere reserve and the opportunity it brings to the local communities is essential.
The Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, in collaboration with the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, based in Venice and the Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea Protection convened last year in October at the Circeo National Park (Sabaudia) a national workshop on the global communication strategy for the Italian Reserves Network.
The workshop was moderated by Meriem Bouamran, UNESCO MAB Networking: Biosphere Reserves and Capacity Building, and Jonathan Baker, Head of Science unit, UNESCO Regional Bureau, with a focus on “How do you tell a story involving people in the Biosphere Reserve?”.
The goal was to contribute to building a solid and convincing foundation on which each Italian biosphere reserve could develop its story and create a national communication plan. Maria Carmela Giarratano Chairperson of the Italian MAB National Committee, General Director for Protection of Nature and Sea (DG PNM) Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea Protection, joined in the discussion for its conclusion and expressed her thanks to UNESCO for organizing such an innovative and interactive session.
Representatives from 16 Italian biosphere reserves explored the creation of stories capable of expressing the values of biosphere reserves as well as how these values can be applied to specific local contexts. Discussed was how a communication strategy, tailored to national needs, could be developed with a reflection on future developments.
Two main documents were used as tools and guidance during the workshop:
– The UNESCO MAB Brand & Story Toolkit: A guide to engaging people and telling our powerful story toolkit provided the ingredients for what the MAB stands, our common values and a standard description of what a biosphere reserve is that can be used across the World Network.
– The Global Communication Strategy & Action Plan is based on the idea that our global communication is made up of the communication of all of biosphere reserves around the world. Increasing our collective ability to communicate effectively will have a tangible and lasting impact on our work, our credibility, our visibility and our place in this world.
Participants fully integrated MAB common values, what story foundations are about and how to work together as a team to create a national communication plan that exemplifies the MAB values. During the workshop, they worked in groups on a story foundation for 4 Italian biosphere reserves and also created targeted messaging for the 3 objectives of the communication plan and for 4 different audience groups using the UNESCO MAB tools.
The core team agreed to review the outputs of the session including writing the foundation story for all biosphere reserves in Italy (19 biosphere reserves) to reflect some of the messaging from the working sessions and finalizing #ProudToshare videos to showcase the diversity of the network.
Communications is a key part of the MAB programme. A great amount of work has been put into developing a bottom up communication strategy for the programme as a whole. It is now important to apply this strategy at the national and site level and this workshop was part of this process.
Imagine what we could achieve together by inspiring even more people to commit to the vision of the MAB programme!