Global Collaboration

A key objective of UNESCO Biospheres is to learn from the experiences of others. The Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Biosphere Partnership takes part in international projects, piloting new ideas and initiatives that can then be rolled out more widely across Scotland, the UK and other parts of the world.

Read more about the SHAPE Project: Sustainable Heritage Areas: Partnerships for Ecotourism. A three-year project funded by the European Commission’s Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme, SHAPE’s goal was to help local authorities, businesses and communities develop innovative ecotourism initiatives which would help preserve local natural and cultural assets while generating economic value. The first group of Biosphere Guides were trained in 2019 thanks to support from the SHAPE Project.


The GSA Biosphere Partnership actively seeks opportunities to network with other UNESCO designations around the world. The EuroMAB Network includes all European and North American member states which participate in UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme – that’s 36 countries, and more than 300 UNESCO Biospheres.  It is a platform for sharing knowledge, know-how and experience of sustainable development, as well as a collective tool for supporting best practice.

The biennial EuroMAB conference has been running since 1986 and officers from the GSA UNESCO Biosphere attend each one. The 2019 EuroMAB Conference was held in Dublin, where we were asked to chair a workshop on the role that UNESCO Biospheres can play in engaging with and supporting local sustainable enterprise. In 2022 we were hosted by Biosphärenpark Nockberge in Austria for a week of learning on the theme of strengthening cross-border cultural ties. Download the conference report here.

Learning Journeys

The GSA Biosphere Partnership hosts visits from international partners wanting to learn about initiatives we are leading here in Galloway and Southern Ayrshire, that they may be able to try back at home. We take our own stakeholders on reciprocal visits, where they can learn from international UNESCO Biospheres and bring new ideas on sustainable development back to southwest Scotland.

Read more about our exchanges with the Rhon Biosphere (Germany), North Karelia Biosphere (Finland), and Urdaibai Biosphere in the Basque region of Spain.

Our most recent learning journeys have been with Sweden’s 7 UNESCO Biospheres. The GSA Biosphere Partnership hosted Swedish Coordinators in spring 2023, and Nedre Dalälven‘s governing board in the autumn. Our regions share many of the same priorities, particularly to embed sustainability in farming, forestry, tourism, and jobs.

Our international projects frequently include partnership activity with the UK National Commission for UNESCO and the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme. We were privileged to welcome representatives from both organisations to the GSA Biosphere in summer 2023 as part of our 10th Anniversary celebrations. Read more here, and if you’re planning a visit, take inspiration from our Ambassador’s Tour, a self-guided itinerary based on the visit of the UK Ambassador to UNESCO, Anna Nsubuga.