abrdn Charitable Foundation and UNESCO reveal details of partnership

21 September 2022

Five sites selected to receive funding.

Today, the abrdn Charitable Foundation (aCF) and UNESCO have shared plans for the first year of a three-year partnership. Five project sites were selected for the first year of the project out of a total of 25 proposals following a comprehensive selection process:

  • The Ohrid-Prespa Transboundary Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site in Albania/North Macedonia is a unique area, based around Lake Ohrid, which provides refuge for numerous freshwater species of flora and fauna. This project will promote innovative ways of mapping water-related ecosystem.
  • The Asterousia Mountain Range Biosphere Reserve in Crete, hosts 50% of all animal and plant species recorded on the Greek island and will be the focus for a new research project to generate fit-for-purpose marine litter data through community-based research.  
  • The Tuscan Islands Biosphere Reserve in the Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy comprises seven main islands and a few isolated islets. It encompasses a wide range of geological, geomorphological and biological diversity and will be the base for a project exploring the sustainable use of water and insular ecosystems notably through remote sensing techniques.  
  • The Kozjansko and Obsotelje Biosphere Reserve is one of the most important nature conservation areas in Sloveniain terms of its biotic diversity, and will host a research project to monitor the biodiversity of dry grasslands and work towards the creation of a genetic seed bank. 
  • Brighton and Lewes Downs Biosphere Reserve in the United Kingdom is made up of three distinct but inter-related environments; rural, coastal & marine and urban, and will be the base for a project that promotes Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) as a key tool for managing groundwater in urban areas.

 Each of the projects place emphasis on education, in some cases working with schools within the sites to promote learning about sustainable development. The projects will also promote the importance of innovative ‘green’ and ‘blue’ solutions for sustainable development, climate change mitigation and adaptation involving key stakeholders such as local businesses, NGOs and youth.

The selection process sought to identify the projects best placed to deliver impactful research across a range of land and seascapes and with a variety of environmental themes. Specifically, promoting research related to UNESCO’s science intergovernmental programmes: biodiversity, nature-based solutions, ecosystem services, water, the ocean, and the climate, whilst also contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals 6 (water), 13 (climate), 14 (ocean) and 15 (land).

Amanda Young, Chief Sustainability Officer, abrdn, added: “We’re thrilled to be supporting such important projects, all of which are driving promotion of a more sustainable and climate neutral world. Tying the research being carried out at each site to themes aligned with the UNSDGs is important. This multilateral approach will be crucial to ensure equitable development and environmental sustainability - themes that are being brought into sharp focus by spiraling impacts of climate change.”

Ana Luiza Thompson Flores, Officer in Charge of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe said: “I am delighted to witness today the start of this innovative public private partnership implemented in UNESCO’s designated sites. I am sure that the fantastic projects relating to biodiversity, water and the ocean we have heard about today will have a great impact on the sustainability of these sites, which we see as pilots for the implementation of the SDGs.”

The selection process for the sites included an evaluation by the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe as well as assessments conducted by UNESCO specialists in science, education, culture and Ocean Literacy.The short-listed applications were then reviewed by the project Advisory Board, made up of UNESCO and the aCF.




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Media Relations Manager, abrdn



Notes to editors

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