SUNSHINE Coast Council announced today that the region has officially been recognised internationally as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
UNESCO identifies biosphere reserves to be ‘learning places for sustainable development’, as places that provide ‘local solutions to global challenges’ and the Sunshine Coast region now proudly stands as an international site of excellence and area of natural beauty.
Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson said recognition was a truly historic moment for the Sunshine Coast.
“I am very proud to live and work in a region that has now become a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, as we continue to celebrate people and nature,” Mayor Jamieson said.
The coup has been years in the making, with council applying to UNESCO in 2019 – on behalf of the community – to be recognised as a biosphere.
“After years in the making, this prestigious designation will help us protect and enhance our region, communities, economy and our natural environment for future generations.”
Mayor Jamieson explained that becoming a biosphere supports council and the community’s clear plan and vision for the future of the Sunshine Coast.
“Committing to being a biosphere ensures people on the Sunshine Coast can be confident their council and their broader community respect the environment and understand their place living within it.
“A biosphere designation shows the world we are a community that wants to live in harmony with our environment, recognises the need for responsible development to cater for the people choosing to live on the Sunshine Coast while also recognising the importance of preserving our natural environment.”
Sunshine Coast Council Environment and Liveability Portfolio Councillor Maria Suarez said joining the network of UNSECO Biosphere reserves was a significant program to be part of, explaining the designation supports council’s commitment to remain “future focused”.
“Being a biosphere also has a range of benefits, particularly for our tourism and agriculture industries as our biosphere designation could support a sustainable ‘Produced on the Sunshine Coast’ brand which increases the value of products and services,” Cr Suarez said.
“With this designation, our region has the potential to become a magnet for others from around the world who want to buy from and visit a region that focuses on sustainability.
“This is the culmination of years of work and preparation and I’d like to thank the Community Reference Group and the wider community for partnering with council in this process.”
Biosphere Community Reference Group (CRG) Chair Will Shrapnel said the group had informed and shaped what a biosphere designation would mean for the community through the nomination process, and the work would continue as the project now moved into the implementation phase.
“This is just the start of the journey,” Mr Shrapnel said.
“As a council and a community, now we start the process of evolving and applying what it means for us to be a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
“With this official designation, nothing changes overnight in terms of how we go about our daily lives, however it provides great clarity around what our future looks like as a region with sustainability as a fundamental consideration in the choices we make going forward.
“So many of us have chosen to live on the Sunshine Coast for its natural beauty and lifestyle and this designation helps us clarify how we value as a community and how council can support us in protecting and enhancing what we have now for the benefit of future generations.”