Brock celebrates its place in the biosphere with UN flag raising

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Brock celebrates its place in the biosphere with UN flag raising

Published on January 26 2012

Brock University raised a United Nations flag at its St. Catharines campus today to celebrate its geographic location within the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Ontario's Niagara Escarpment a Biosphere Reserve in February 1990.

The ceremony was co-ordinated by Brock’s newly established Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC), which was created to pursue transdisciplinary research at the University concerning the environment, sustainability and social-ecological resilience.

The symbolic event strengthens the institution’s commitment to innovative and sustainable research, teaching and service in line with a more active role in UNESCO’s World Biosphere Reserve Network.

Brock is one of only a handful of Canadian universities to be distinctly situated within a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The Niagara Escarpment is one of 16 reserves in Canada, and is part of a network of 580 UNESCO biosphere reserves in 114 countries.

“Brock’s location in a World Biosphere Reserve highlights the imperative of reconciling economic and social development with ecosystem integrity,” says Ryan Plummer, director, ESRC. “In response, the ESRC brings together individuals from across Brock University and beyond to engage in the enterprise of sustainability science and embrace UNESCO’s invitation to become a site of excellence.”

The ESRC will contribute to Brock’s institution-wide efforts to create transdisciplinary spaces by strengthening existing research networks at the institution, and between the University and its local and global communities. It will also help to foster the growth and development of new research partnerships looking at wide-ranging issues under the umbrella of sustainability.

David A. Walden, Secretary-General of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, welcomed Brock’s willingness to serve as a bridge between research and community action. ‘‘As we approach the conclusion of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014), education institutions have a crucial role to play in translating knowledge about sustainability into practical tools and resources.”

The ESRC’s key areas of research include water resources and resilience, environmental governance, climate change and adaptation, social justice and First-Nations equity issues.

“The future of humanity depends on our ability to transcend the often contradictory relationships between economic practices, social progress and the natural environment,” says Thomas Dunk, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences. “Brock’s location in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is strong reminder of our responsibilities as educators and researchers in this regard.”

UN flag