14 Jan 2022

Biosphere at the heart of the council

As a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the Isle of Wight is recognised as one of the best places in the world where local communities have found a way to live sustainably within their local ecosystems.

Now the principles of the Isle of Wight Biosphere are to sit at the very heart of the Isle of Wight Council, with senior councillors last night (Thursday) approving plans to embed them within the fabric of the authority's corporate 'DNA'.

In so doing, the Alliance administration underlined its aspiration to support the biosphere by ensuring council policies, strategies and decision-making not only give due regard to UNESCO's internationally recognised 'badge' of sustainability, but look to sustain and enhance it too.

The council aims to achieve this, in part, by appointing an independently-chaired Biosphere Steering Group drawn from all sectors of the Island, including environment, business, art and culture and wellbeing.

Its role will be to steer and advise the council in the development of decisions and policies, working closely with the new Mission Zero Hub — an Island-wide partnership currently being set up to work towards the Island's net zero emissions targets.

Meanwhile, a new framework will also be created to ensure service managers at the council give due consideration to the biosphere when developing their service plans.

Councillor Jonathan Bacon, Cabinet member for environment, heritage and waste, said: "I know Islanders are passionate about protecting and sustaining our environment — the natural beauty we’re surrounded by is one of the reasons that many of us love to live here.

“Through the work we’re doing and will do through our climate and environment strategy, we’ll not only be protecting our Island for future generations, but enhancing our biosphere and doing our bit for the rest of the world.

"However this is bigger than the council and bigger than our environment. The 17 UNESCO Sustainable Development Goals, which we are committed to ingraining and pursuing, cover a much wider range of issues, including dealing with poverty, clean water, energy and infrastructure.

"As such, the committee that is being formed will draw on representatives from across the Island who are experts in all the relevant sectors. The group will be independently chaired and its work will both steer the council and inform activity across the Island to support a sustainable future for generations to come.

“What we have here is a massive opportunity and massive potential and we must now work to realise that.”

Natasha Dix, strategic manager for contracts, waste and environment, added: "Every decision the council takes will have regard to supporting, sustaining and enhancing our biosphere status as well as our climate and environment change strategy.

"We will work closely with town, parish and community councils to encourage and support them in helping to achieve our aspirations — and we will challenge the utility companies and our partners to support us in making the Island a sustainable place to live and work."

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The 17 UNESCO Sustainable Development Goals
The 17 UNESCO Sustainable Development Goals
Factfile
  • The principles of the Isle of Wight Biosphere are to sit at the very heart of the Isle of Wight Council.
  • he council aims to achieve this by appointing an independently-chaired Biosphere Steering Group drawn from all sectors of the Island, including environment, business, art and culture and wellbeing.
 
Isle of Wight, UK