UNESCO and Royal University of Phnom Penh conduct Seminar to promote scientific and research cooperation on Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve
On 2nd June 2021, UNESCO and the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) collaborated to conduct an online seminar, to provide a platform for participants to learn about UNESCO’s work in natural sciences, specifically in relation to the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve (TSBR). The seminar advocated for the important role of young researchers and scientists, for undertaking quality research for conservation and sustainable development of the TSBR.
More than 40 participants attended the seminar, including students, alumni, faculty members and scholars from RUPP. The seminar discussed the concept of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, with focus on the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve (TSBR) ecosystem, where UNESCO is undertaking various conservation and sustainable development initiatives. UNESCO team introduced various specialized topics during the Seminar, including Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in Biosphere Reserves, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a tool for evidence-based policy making, and Environmental Governance, to deepen the audience’s understanding of how they can play an active role in shaping Cambodia’s efforts to promote conservation and sustainable development.
During the Seminar, Dr. Hoy Sereivathanak Reasey, Head of Department of Natural Resource Management and Development (DNRMD) of RUPP, emphasised the important role of youth in conservation and natural resources management (NRM), and discussed how DNRMD incorporates environmental topics into education curricula and empowers students with theoretical and practical knowledge and skills on NRM, biodiversity conservation, environmental protection, and sustainable development planning.
Dr. Chou Phanith, lecturer and researcher at Faculty of Development Study (FDS) of RUPP, gave a presentation on “Integrating Biodiversity of Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve into Teaching and Learning”. The presentation highlighted the importance of Education as an important tool to foster environmental awareness amongst students. According to Dr. Phanith, integrating biodiversity knowledge in existing curricula, supporting eco-clubs at schools, creating a biodiversity platform and school or community competitions for environmental conservation activities, are important steps for promoting conservation and sustainable development of the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve.
Biosphere Reserves are designated as part of UNESCO’s intergovernmental Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, for sustainably managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems. The Tonle Sap Lake was inscribed on the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves in 1997, and enforced by Royal Decree in 2001.
UNESCO is collaborating with academic and research institutions in Cambodia, to strengthen research on various environmental, socio-economic and cultural aspects of the TSBR, and advocating for quality research and scientific cooperation on this unique ecosystem. The initiative is undertaken as part of UNESCO’s on-going activities to strengthen conservation and sustainable development at the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve, with support from the FAO-CAPFISH-Capture Project, funded by the European Union.