Local businesses are backing the bid to include the Isle of Man as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Biosphere Reserve.
UNESCO status would provide global recognition of the Island’s ability to balance a modern and dynamic economy with a high quality environment.
The Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture is co-ordinating the submission which will champion the Isle of Man as a special place to live, work and visit.
If successful, the Island would become the first jurisdiction in its entirety to be awarded UNESCO status, joining an illustrious list of international Biosphere sites such as Uluru (Ayres Rock) in Australia, Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, Cape Winelands in South Africa and the Camargue Delta in France.
As well as providing an opportunity to raise global awareness of the Isle of Man, the bid also recognises that having an exceptional natural environment side-by-side with hi-tech industry is an important factor in the drive to grow and diversify the economy.
Roger Raatgever, Chief Executive Officer of online gaming software provider Microgaming, said: ‘The environment makes a significant contribution to the quality of life people enjoy in the Isle of Man. It was a contributing factor as to why we chose to base the company here; it sets the Island apart from other international business centres.’
Mr Raatgever added: ‘As a large employer in the Isle of Man, we consider the ability to enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle a vital component in the recruitment and retention of staff. We really encourage our employees to get involved in sports to take advantage of the environment we are fortunate to live in. We think the Isle of Man is unique in that respect and that’s why we would be delighted if the Island achieved UNESCO Biosphere status.’
The balanced relationship between people, business and nature will be the main focus of the application to UNESCO. Peter Longworth, Environmental Protection Officer – Sustainability and Climate Change, is co-ordinating the bid, with a view to submitting nomination papers by July 2014.
Mr Longworth said: ‘UNESCO recognition would be a way of telling the rest of the world about how the Isle of Man successfully brings together a thriving business community, rich cultural heritage, outstanding landscapes and varied wildlife ecosystems. We believe we have the environmental, cultural and social credentials to become the first jurisdiction in its entirety to be awarded Biosphere status.’
He added: ‘There has been a positive response from members of the local business community. They see the UNESCO proposal as an opportunity to become more involved in the management of the Manx environment and wildlife, and to give the Isle of Man a reputational boost. We are grateful for the support of companies such as Microgaming and would like to hear from other organisations that are keen to get involved.’
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