18th November 2021
This year (2021), UNESCO Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme is celebrating its 50th anniversary and all biosphere reserves across the world are hosting various events to celebrate this anniversary. As part of the celebrations, Vhembe Biosphere Reserve (VBR) in collaboration with the University of Venda (UNIVEN) hosted a celebration event on the 18th of November 2021 which started at 9:00am at the University of Venda’s Research and Conference Centre. The purpose and vision of the collaboration for the UNESCO MAB 50th celebration was to showcase the wonderful relationship between UNIVEN and the VBR, and the importance of research in conservation and sustainable development in the VBR. Over the last decade research from UNIVEN has shaped conservation efforts and contributed towards policy formulation in the VBR. The UNESCO MAB Programme recognises biosphere reserves as living laboratories for sustainable development, so it is with this in mind that the VBR has decided to partner with UNIVEN to celebrate the UNESCO MAB 50th anniversary.
During this event the VBR coordinater Mr Makoni indicated that: in the VBR we have achieved some key milestones over the last 10 years which include submission of our VBR ten-year review, drafting the VBR Strategic Environmental Management Plan, contributing to the Limpopo Conservation Plan, Ndima community Services heritage data base, participating in the Greater Kruger Strategic Development Plan and several demonstration projects that we have supported. Adding to that he mentioned “We exist to showcase the role of VBR in promoting innovative approaches to economic development that are culturally appropriate and environmentally sustainable.”
Prof J. Francis who is the director of the Institute for Rural Development said during his presentation “UNIVEN is trying to reimagine itself, so it becomes more relevant to amplify the impact that it has now, it needs to be innovative, creative and different’’. He wraped up by saying that “We need to take the university to its rightful owners”.
During his address the Vice Chancellor and Principal Dr NB Nthambeleni profoundly mentioned “We are right in the middle of the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve, designated in 2009. Our unique location has influenced the vision, mission and the strategic plan of the university, which places engagement at the very centre of our existence. It has also informed our UNIVEN Integrated Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Biodiversity Plan, which is an overarching institutional plan to operationalize our strategic objectives.
This event was an opportunity to the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve Youth Network to officially launch their struacture. While giving a talk the VBR youth Networl Coordinator Ntakusen Godzwana said that “We are the champions of today and tomorrow”