UNESCO x Guerlain Women for Bees webinar: Learning from beekeepers in biosphere reserves

The UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme and Guerlain are cooperating to train and support 50 women beekeepers within the World Network of Biosphere Reserves to maintain and develop their know-how in 25 biosphere reserves. This five-year programme is part of the partnership initiated between UNESCO-MAB and LVMH. The objectives of the MAB Programme which celebrate its 50th anniversary this year, are to reconcile conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use and promote sustainable practices that combine ecological, social and economic dimensions.

The partnership between UNESCO-MAB and Guerlain focuses on three main areas:

  • the cross-training of women beekeepers in biosphere reserves sharing their knowledge and practices,
  • the creation of a network of women beekeepers supported scientifically and technically to ensure sustainable and economically beneficial beekeeping activities, and
  • the analysis and measurement of the benefits of pollination for local ecosystems.

This five-year programme with Guerlain is being developed jointly with MAB National Committees, local biosphere reserve managers and communities. The programme also entails a cooperation with the International Pollinators Initiative (joint Convention on Biological Diversity-FAO initiative)  as well as with the European Commission (Directorate-General Environment) to coordinate existing efforts regarding beekeeping.

The UNESCO x Guerlain Women for Bees programme focuses specifically on local practices in biosphere reserves. By doing so it prevents the importing of bee colonies or queens from outside to biosphere reserves (for instance, colonies of Western honeybees) and also the promotion of very large apiaries, which may present a risk of outcompeting other native species of bees and wild pollinators as well as an increasing risk of spreading diseases.

On this World Bee Day, a webinar presents the values and approach of UNESCO-MAB Programme for reconciling human beings with the rest of the living.

Feasibility surveys have been carried out in 3 biosphere reserves (Tonle Sap in Cambodia, Xishuangbanna in China, and Kafa in Ethiopia). The webinar brings forward Ms. Xiaoyue Li, the researcher who carried out this survey in Xishuangbanna Biosphere Reserve in China. She addresses  questions on beekeeping practices with local breeds and species of bees, the status and trends of native bee populations and the impacts of climate change on bee production, but also on the opportunities and challenges the Women for Bees programme can bring in the biosphere reserve, in particular with regard to bees and pollinator conservation.

The researcher is interacting with two Slovenian beekeepers from the Kozjansko & Obsotelje Biosphere Reserve, Ms. Patricija Vrenko and Ms. Ivana Kovačević, who are part of the UNESCO network of women beekeepers. Ms Vrenko and Ms Kovačević share their local experience and perspectives as well as expectations on the programme. Ms. Hien T. Ngo from FAO and previously Head of the Technical Support Unit for the IPBES Pollination and Pollinators assessment is sharing her views on the issues raised.