On Tuesday 9 August, we welcomed Her Excellency Laura Davies, UK Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, to the city. The visit was organised to showcase the work of The Living Coast UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, of which Brighton & Hove City Council is the lead partner.
Throughout the day, Laura and a team from the UK National Commission for UNESCO and staff from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office were able to meet key partners and learn about some of The Living Coast’s projects across the Brighton, Hove & Lewes Downs region.
The Living Coast
The Living Coast is the UK’s only UNESCO-designated urban biosphere. It covers a biodiverse area from the River Adur in the west to the River Ouse in the east, following the northern boundary of the South Downs National Park and stretching 2 miles offshore.
The Living Coast has 3 key objectives: conserve and enhance nature, support sustainable development, and promote environmental awareness, knowledge, learning and engagement. Its projects include greening urban spaces, improving water quality, promoting active travel and biocultural tourism, and more.
Visiting key projects
The day began with a tour of sustainable travel and innovation in public transport delivery at Brighton & Hove Bus Depot in Hove, followed by lunch at OneGarden to learn about the Stanmer Park Restoration Project and regional sustainable tourism initiatives.
After this, guests were taken on a tour of Stanmer Park, including The Physic Garden at Stanmer Organics, Brighton Wildflower Conservation Society, and the Changing Chalk Project.
The day finished with a reception with senior leaders from The Living Coast Biosphere partnership at the ONCA Barge in Brighton Marina. The partnership comprises more than 40 voluntary, conservation, education, local government, and private sector bodies, including the council.
Benefitting both people and planet
Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, Leader of Brighton & Hove City Council, said: “It was an honour to welcome Laura and the UNESCO team to Brighton & Hove to showcase the diverse projects taking place across The Living Coast, a decade on from winning this important recognition.
“The relationship between humans and our environment has never been under more pressure, but The Living Coast helps us learn how to balance what people and nature need to flourish together.
“Now, more than ever, it is essential that we work together to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises. In doing so, we can encourage longer-term, sustainable development across the region that benefits both people and planet.”
Reinvigorating our relationship with the environment
Her Excellency Laura Davies, Ambassador for the UK to UNESCO, said: “Biosphere reserves are about people coming together to reimagine and reinvigorate people’s relationship with their natural environment. From upcycled buses and the renovation of Stanmer Park to the Biosphere’s artist in residence project, it was wonderful to see the commitment and expertise with which The Living Coast partnerships are contributing to make the Brighton and Lewes Downs region a more sustainable place to live, work and visit.”
Working locally, impacting globally
Dr Sean Ashworth, Vice-Chair of The Living Coast Delivery Board, said: “It was a great honour to receive the UK UNESCO Ambassador's delegation on a visit to The Living Coast Biosphere.
"The partners all gave great contributions, and we were able to tour some fantastic project sites showcasing how positive the Biosphere experience has been for us.
"Our communities and our environment have benefited from the collaborations that have arisen from the designation.
"The positive work of the Biosphere on education, science and culture has been a great reminder of how important these values are to our communities and wider society. We look forward to future working at our local scale whilst linking to the global scale of the Biosphere network.”
More information about The Living Coast Biosphere