Unesco Green Citizens


UNESCO’s commitment to biodiversity: connecting people and nature for an inspiring future

Biodiversity is the living fabric of our planet. It underpins human wellbeing in the present and in the future, and its rapid decline threatens nature and people alike.

Many solutions exist for stopping and reversing the decline in biodiversity. UNESCO’s diverse networks, programmes and partners have observed positive and inspiring seeds of change around the world.

Get inspired by UNESCO Green Citizens projects that act for conserving and transmitting biodiversity and get involved!

Learn more about UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme: https://en.unesco.org/mab

Education for Sustainable Development
Indigenous and Local Knowledge
Forests and desertification
Natural disasters risk reduction
Natural resource management
Participatory science/citizen science
Sustainable lifestyles
Democratic Republic of the Congo
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
United States of America
#Africa #Women

The Widou Thiengoly multi-purpose gardens

Coumba Dady KA is fighting for positive change in Senegal through the creation of polyvalent gardens with fellow women. The garden’s final goal is to ensure food diet diversification and increased financial autonomy thanks to the engagement of these women. It’s inspiring!

The polyvalent gardens are parallel projects to the great green wall project in order to combat desertification. These gardens were set up and are managed in consultation with the women living in the villages across the Great Green Wall. These determined women have formed various Economic Interest Groups. The aim of these gardens is to allow the cultivation of fruits and vegetables throughout the year, to provide food security to different villages across the Great Green Wall. 

These gardens should provide enough food for self-consumption as well as enabling villagers to diversify theIR diet. What’s more, they have the possibility to sell their surplus crops at weekly markets. This initiative thus enables the women to achieve a new social and financial autonomy, as well as to develop their expertise in agriculture. 

parade for manta rays protection awareness

Planeta Océano: protecting the Giant Manta

Kerstin Forsberg is determined in engaging coastal fishermen communities of Peru in protecting the giant manta ! To do so, she created the marine educator’s teacher network as well as participatory research or community-based manta ray ecotourism. Planeta Océano engages coastal communities in marine conservation through research, marine education and sustainable development initiatives. These initiatives include:

1. Participatory research and citizen science: Local volunteers (fishermen, children, youth, among others) actively investigate local ecosystems, fisheries, and marine species, thus supporting local management efforts. Projects have included assessing shark and ray fisheries, pioneering manta ray conservation in Peru, assessing Traditional Ecological Knowledge on critically endangered sawfish, and supporting Marine Protected Areas.

2. Marine education: Incorporating and institutionalizing marine education and Ocean Literacy. Projects have included setting up Peru’s “Marine Educators Teacher Network” with over 50 schools, leading incubators for youth-lead environmental initiatives, game-based education and their Connecting Schools program, which aims to bring together students across borders through online technology and community engagement.

3. Sustainable development: Fostering environmental entrepreneurship and market-based approaches that contribute to marine conservation and socio-economic development. For example, pioneering community-based manta ray ecotourism in Peru as an alternate livelihood for low-income fishermen and local artisans.

Ultimately, these multidisciplinary and participatory efforts serve as a platform to connect multiple sectors in marine conservation, thus bringing together government, academia, youth, children, local fishermen, and many others.

Sustainable Cupuaçu in the Amazon

The Sustainable Cupuaçu in the Amazon project, the result of a partnership established between the Klorane Botanical Foundation (KBF), L’Institut de Recherche Pierre Fabre (IRPF) and Beraca Institute for the Valorization of Sociobiodiversity (IB), was born with the intention of providing farmers and quilombola extractivists a new economic opportunity through the production of cupuaçu (Theobroma grandiflorum), a native species to the Amazon, through the Agroforestry System (SAF).

The project was conceived from KBF’s three missions: to protect; to explore; to educate. These missions were the guiding elements for the construction of the project’s objective and action areas, which have the following propositions:
PROTECT – Main element of the project that aims to protect the Amazon biome from the restoration of degraded areas through the implementation of agroforestry systems (SAF) in Bela Aurora Community. The project foresaw the planting of 3,000 feet of cupuaçu (in addition to other Integrated species) in the expectation of a production of around 6 tons of seeds in 3-4 years. The strategy adopted to achieve this objective is to transfer technology between family farmers in the community of Bela Aurora and the community of Santa Luzia, in Tomé Açu, which has a history of production in SAFs.
EXPLORE – The pillar aims to systematize and disseminate knowledge from the project’s learning and results, through scientific publications, congresses, etc.
EDUCATE – Consists on conducting workshops with children and young people from the Bela Aurora community, seeking to reinforce the element of environmental education in SAF cultures. This formal moment aims to help develop a more theoretical and critical perception of reality, focusing on the role of human beings in nature, the dynamics of trees in the forest and the importance of preserving biodiversity to maintain the balance of the biome. Within the initiatives aimed at implementing the SAFs, Six training workshops were planned, which involve activities to raise awareness of the importance of restoring degraded areas, preserving the environment and agro-ecological production with family farmers in Bela Aurora.

Pristine Seas underwater cinematographer Manu San Félix swims through a school of thousands of black stripe salema at Isabela Island.

Pristine Seas Protection Project

Ocean life has a critical role in supporting all life on Earth. That is why Enric Sala founded National Geographic Pristine Seas, and together with partners and local communities have inspired the protection of 22 places in the ocean covering a total area of more than 5.8 million square kilometers — nearly half the area of the United States. Pristine Seas seeks to explore, document and inspire the protection of the last wild places in the ocean.

The project team works with partners, local communities and governments to help create marine reserves, using their unique combination of exploration, research and storytelling. These reserves have both local and global benefits. Local benefits include enhancing the sustainability of local fishing, perpetuating local cultures and lifestyles, developing ecotourism opportunities, enhancing coastal protection from storm surge, increasing food security, and improving livelihoods. Global benefits include mitigation of climate change via ocean carbon storage, as well as protection of biodiversity and associated ecosystem services.

Pristine Seas is working to help achieve a global goal of protecting 30 percent of the ocean by 2030, thereby bolstering marine biodiversity and improving food provision, while safeguarding the ability of the ocean to help mitigate climate change through carbon storage.

Copyrights: Worldfoodorama

Jubilació Segura: social empowerment in Peru

Tristan Lecomte understands the need to develop agroforestry and nature-based solution projects. To do so, he created the PUR project which incubates and build sustainable and environmentally friendly projects. Jubilación Segura, through which he gathers small-scale, fair-trade farming families who plant trees on degraded and unused lands in Peru, following forestry models, is one of this incredible project.  

Jubilación Segura is a project where the cooperative gathers small-scale, fair-trade, organic cocoa and coffee farming families who plant trees on degraded and unused lands in Peru, following forestry models, as well as on cultivated plots where they develop agroforestry practices.
The project also develops tree planting in the Amazonas Region which has faced high deforestation due to the extension of cattle ranching.

The objectives of the project are to:
– Protect ecosystems by developing agroforestry to ensure long-term sustainability of cocoa and coffee plantations.
– Fight deforestation and its consequences, such as soil erosion, decrease of water availability, natural disasters, landscape degradation, and biodiversity loss.
– Enhance farmers’ livelihoods by providing alternative sources of income.


Wadi Degla Virtual Museum

In a quest to raise people’s awareness regarding Egypt’s natural heritage and specifically the Wadi Degla Protected Area, a group of citizens decided to use Virtual Reality to bring people closer to nature: when technology meets sustainable development! 

As part of Nature Conservation Egypt’s environmental education program, Wadi Degla Virtual Museum is a pioneering educational experience that provides environmental, historical, and geological awareness about Cairo’s gateway to the Eastern desert in a mobile and dynamic way. This project uses Virtual Reality (VR) technology to bring the public closer to nature and educate them about one of Egypt’s fascinating protected areas in the form of three 360-degree videos that cover the following topics:
1. The Geological History of Wadi Degla
2. The Biodiversity and Ecosystems of Wadi Degla
3. The Nature-friendly activities in Wadi Degla

They offer three main educational experiences:

Experience 1: An intimate closed lecture with select participants (max.16)
What it looks like: It is a 2-hour lecture that incorporates VR videos for all participants. At the end, all participants get printed educational material.

Experience 2: An open lecture followed by a closed VR experience session
What it looks like: It starts with an hour educational lecture that is open to anyone interested in learning about the Wadi Degla protectorate. Upon entrance, every attendant gets a raffle ticket. At the end of the lecture, 16 raffle tickets are randomly selected. Those whose numbers are chosen get to experience the WDVM videos with the team. All participants get printed educational material.

Experience 3: A public booth
What it looks like: Anyone interested can experience the VR and get educational material about the protected area.

Experience 4: A customized educational experience based on your context and preference.

To ensure the sustainability of this project, they often charge for this service the institution and communities that do not suffer from poverty. Compensation is based on a sliding scale depending on the recipient’s ability to pay. A small percentage of the fees goes towards maintaining the project’s equipment while the majority goes towards sponsoring a free event at another institution that cannot pay.


Securing community Livelihood and Nutrition

Citizens across 60 villages of the Maharashtra region gathered to manage the conservation of indigenous crop and local bio-resources; preserving soils through communities’ engagement ! 

Realising the need to work around diverse bio-resources which naturally occur in different agro-climatic zones and the significance of the sustained availability of this diversity to the communities, the work around native, domesticated and diverse bio-resources such as wild relatives and local cultivars of diverse crops and forestry species and indigenous breeds of domesticated livestock has been identified as an important Programme component in BAIF.

The programmes approach was to appreciate the naturally occurring diversity, initiate efforts for community based, participatory, in situ conservation and revival of these bio-resources. The programme also aimed to document traditional knowledge, useful traits and community’s perceptions of these bio-resources and ex-situ conservation actions by blending science and technology tools for long term conservation and availability of preferred diversity. The Project focuses on the creation of: a community managed seed and agricultural produce marketing system, promotion of low cost organic farming practices for crop production, knowledge building and transfer for conservation, cultivation, consumption, value addition of produce from crop cultivars and wild edible plants in 60 tribal villages of the Gadchiroli, Nandurbar, Ahmednagar, Palghar, Pune districts of Maharashtra. It fulfils the following key objectives:

  • Documentation of biodiversity, traditional wisdom, and conservation practices adopted by communities in different ecosystems and eco-zones in Maharashtra,
  • Validation and upholding of successful conservation practices by observations, experimentation, data collection and analysis
  • Propagation of these successful practices by communication and intervention at the academic, policy and societal level, from the regional to the international scale.
  • To sustain rich heritage of biodiversity resources on a long term basis to be able to address the issue of climate change related vulnerability and food and nutrition insecurity. 

School Garden Initiative

Driven by community demand, Aaron Ebner has initiated the construction of greenhouses in schools, a unique tool for sustainable development education! The goal is to raise awareness about nutrition, responsibility and agriculture in schools of the Cusco region thanks to the participation of teachers in this programme. 

The AASD provides the materials and expertise for greenhouse construction. In coordination with the school, they develop a curriculum that gets students directly involved in the maintenance and management of their shared school greenhouse. The curriculum is highly participatory and practical with the intention of giving students improved understanding of nutrition, greenhouse cultivation, and a sense of empowerment that comes with responsibility.

Copyrights: The Mountain Institute

Ancestral Technologies and Climate Change

Reconnecting with ancestral traditions has saved communities living near the Peruvian Nor-Yauyos Cochas Landscape Reserve from water scarcity!  Together with Instituto de Montaña, local communities took the initiative to rebuild an abandoned ancestral hydraulic system, which today provides them with water storage and improved irrigation systems. 

In April 2013, Instituto de Montaña began working in Peru’s Nor-Yauyos Cochas Landscape Reserve (RPNYC) with communities affected by increasing water scarcity. Together, they rediscovered the existence of a vast, complex and partially abandoned hydraulic system to manage water in the alpine high-plateau, or Puna. Through a complex of dams and open earth canals, these systems increased soil and ground water storage, creating niche plant communities for camelid herds and improved water supplies to irrigation systems. Recognizing the potential of these ancestral systems to address modern-day water scarcity, they organized a process for dialogue between indigenous experts and multi-disciplinary teams of archaeologists, anthropologist and geo-hydrologists.

This transdisciplinary approach resulted in a suite of green-grey hybrid solutions adapted to the existing demographic, organizational and economic context of highland communities.

#Africa #Women


Determined to empower women and youth, Sarah Toumi has initiated a reforestation programme, teaching agro-ecological techniques and planting forest gardens and green corridors all over Tunisia! 

Trees4Tunisia is a reforestation program empowering women and youth in Tunisia, teaching agroecological techniques and planting forest gardens and green corridors all over the country to fight desertification, poverty and inequalities.
This project is able to offer opportunities for women and youths in rural areas how to generate revenues from the forests, planted, while restoring biodiversity and soils and offering learning opportunities for children, the youth and women to be involved in an ecological project with a big vision thanks to the program “The young forest keepers”.


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