The Nomination Process

The Nomination Process

Our goal is to have a completed nomination for UNESCO in Paris by the fall 2019. The nomination process is a challenge in itself, but actually being a biosphere reserve means living up to UNESCO objectives and the particular strategies of the MAB Programme itself.

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Howe Sound Sustainable Development Forum: Summary Report

Howe Sound Sustainable Development Forum: Summary Report

Howe Sound Sustainable Development Goals Forum took place September 28th, 2018 at the Gleneagles Golf Club House in West Vancouver. Lively dialogue among the 90 attendees that included elected and campaigning municipal candidates, industry representatives, Squamish Nation members and NGO’s. Speakers from Squamish River Watershed Society, District of Squamish, District of West Vancouver, Coast Ocean Research Institute, Town of Gibsons, Squamish Nation, Islands Trust, and Helping Hands Squamish gave examples of how their organizations contribute. Questions were explored on what local leadership is needed to advance SDGs in the region.

A report produced by British Columbia Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC) provides an account and an overview of the presentations, discussions and conclusions that were presented throughout the forum. The Howe Sound Sustainable Development Forum was hosted in collaboration by Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative (HSBRI) and the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC).

The forum was used as an opportunity to discuss leadership on sustainable development in the Howe Sound through the lens of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Sustainable Development Goals Forum

Sustainable Development Goals Forum

What’s the connection between affordable housing, a healthy marine environment, and decent work for all in the Howe Sound region? The Howe Sound Sustainable Development Forum will connect the dots and promote local leadership through the power of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Hosted by the BC Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC) and the Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative (HSBRI), the Howe Sound Sustainable Development Forum will take place on Friday, September 28 from 10 am to 3pm at the Great Hall, Gleneagles Clubhouse, West Vancouver.

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June 4-8th, Howe Sound was represented at the 58th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO) and the Canadian Biosphere Reserve Network  Association (CBRA) meetings and AGM on Ottawa.

The theme over the four days was preparing for the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages.  Reconciliation is a focus within CCUNESCO's priorities of peace, equity and sustainable development and CBRA's priorities of biodiversity conservation, reconciliation and sustainable development.

Highlights of the four days included the Day on the Hill Reception hosted by CBRA. Members of Parliament were invited to enjoy food and beverages from each of the Biosphere Reserve regions and to hear about the work of the 18 Canadian Biosphere Reserves.  This was a well attended event and many enjoyed smoked spring salmon caught in Howe Sound,  chocolates featuring local art from Art Meets Chocolate, Squamish made Elderberry cordial from Frost Bites and award winning craft beer from Howe Sound Brewing and Persephone.

The delegates to the CCUNESCO AGM  were honored to have the presence of the Indigenous Chiefs, leaders and Elders that made the journey from their territories.   

Howe Sound Biosphere Region is a prospective Biosphere Reserve and only becomes a member of the Network once an application to UNESCO has been submitted.  We were one of two prospective reserves welcomed to attend.  We are richer for the experience of meeting the representatives from the Canadian Biospheres and the members of the Indigenous Circle.  Howe Sound will be in good company should our nomination be accepted.  We already benefit from the network and we look forward to sharing those benefits with the Howe Sound community. 

April 2018 status of the initiative

April 2018 status of the initiative

The Canadian Commission for UNESCO responded to the Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative (HSBRI) working group’s status report submitted November 2017 encouraging more engagement with First Nations.   In 2017 UNESCO developed a policy on engaging with Indigenous People, a document that applies internationally and is a guiding document for all Biosphere Reserves across the country.  Collaboration and support from the Squamish Nation is essential in order to move forward with this initiative.  We look forward to this engagement.

Canada and our Province have made a commitment to both the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the United Nation’s Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and to the 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets.  The Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative has made a commitment to support these objectives by acting as a communications hub to:

  • Advance greater understanding of our role in Canada’s achievement towards SDG’s, UNDRIP and 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets.
  • Advance Squamish Nation’s goals for reconciliation through communication and dialogue.
  • Financially support existing and ongoing conservation and research projects related to biodiversity in the region.
  • Ensure continued networking and communication between all levels of Government, stakeholders and First Nations in Howe Sound.
  • Inspire, engage and coordinate with existing and future volunteers and leaders in Howe Sound  organizations.

We continue to explore long term sustainable funding for HSBRI.

Sustainable Development Goals Workshop

Sustainable Development Goals Workshop

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), otherwise known as the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.  On March 23rd, members of our Working Group participated in a full day Alliance 2030 dialogue in Vancouver on how the 17 SDG's are being implemented by various organizations.  We look forward to bringing this conversation to Howe Sound in cooperation with the BC Council for International Cooperation.  

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Status Report Submitted to CCMAB

Status Report Submitted to CCMAB

On November 16th, our Working Group submitted a "Status Report" to the Canadian Commission for UNESCO for review and comment from the Man and the Biosphere Committee who are meeting November 22nd, 23rd.  We look forward to comments, questions and general feedback from the committee as to the viability of our proposal for Howe Sound.  This is a first step towards completion of the nomination document  we are working on for submission by end of January.

Please review the report to understand more about this initiative and what is involved.

Photo credit to Donna McMahon


Howe Sound Conservationist's Forum

Howe Sound Conservationist's Forum

Nestled in the woods along the Cheakamus River, The Cheakamus Centre in Brackendale achieves its mission "To create a hub of innovative, authentic educational experiences in nature that inspire all learners to make informed, sustainable decisions through a deeper understanding and connection to the natural world."  This was an ideal location for a meeting of Howe Sound Conservationists on October 3rd.

Representatives from 11 conservation organizations from around Howe Sound came together on our invitation to learn more about our initiative and to share thoughts on the future of conservation work.  A long list of issues was raised that will be explored further as we help to build capacity to support restoration, education and research projects in the years ahead.

Issues such as staying relevant, understand what monitoring is taking place, attracting and engaging new members and funders, effective communications, building and maintaining trust,  ongoing historical context, building more relationship with Squamish Nation, prioritizing projects, influencing policy making and being adaptable were some of the issues that will be further explored.

Represented at the meeting was Squamish River Watershed Society, the Squamish Nation Environmental Manager, Sunshine Coast Conservation Association, Bowen Island Conservancy, Gambier Island Conservancy, Squamish Environmental Network, Keats Island Conservancy, Coastal Ocean Research Institute, Marine Life Sanctuaries Society, Seagrass Conservation Working Group and the Squamish Streamkeepers.   For more information contact

September Update

The Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative Society (HSBRI) is now incorporated under the Societies Act of BC.   While not a registered charity that can issue receipts for tax purposes, our organization welcomes donations to help fund our expenses directly related to this important initiative.

Support for Howe Sound to be designated a UNESCO Biosphere Region continues to grow.   Each of the Sound's regional districts: Metro Vancouver, Squamish-Lillooet and Sunshine Coast, plus each of the local governments, have now expressed their support in principle through resolutions.  

This fall we anticipate committee members of the Canadian Commission of Man and the Biosphere (CCMAB) to visit the region.  Regular updates are being provided to the Commission and we look forward to increased interaction with CCMAB on the progress towards our nomination. 

In October, representatives of conservation groups are meeting to discuss the future role and governance of a Biosphere Region organization.  Recognizing the challenges that non-profit organizations face today, HSBRI will work with other key stakeholders in the creation of an effective governance structure, one that will facilitate conservation efforts sustainable into the future.

For regular updates and upcoming events, please follow us on Facebook.




Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why do you call this a proposal for UNESCO Biosphere Region and not Reserve?

A. We have been assured by UNESCO Paris and the Canadian Commission of Man (CCMAB) and the Biosphere that our initiative can be referred to as “Region”. We prefer the term “Region” to the term to “Reserve” because of the negative historic connotation of reserves in Canada, especially for First Nations peoples. 

Q. How do you determine the boundaries and who makes the final decision?

A. The Draft boundary follows the watershed boundary.  It also follow closely the Squamish Nation traditional territory boundary and the extent of the Howe Sound Cumulative Effects Assessment Framework, currently being undertaken the by the provincial government.  We believe HSBRI has the capacity to nominate, designate an manage a Biosphere Region area this size. The final decision to use the boundary we have chosen will be made by UNESCO and will depend on support for the application.

Q. What is the process for achieving the designation?

A. It is a comprehensive process which entail a number of steps. It starts will gaining support for the concept from all sectors in the region, especially government. It entails completing an extensive nomination document and navigating a strictly controlled application submission process through the Canadian and UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Committees. HSBRI has been advised that a first step is to submit an "annual report" i.e. a summary of what we have achieved through developing the Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative.  The report will show how we reach the criteria of the UNESCO MAB Programme. We have been developing our nomination package, and we currently awaiting new/revised "nomination document guidelines" that will provide an overview of what CCMAB expect from a Biosphere Reserve in the Canadian context. Once we have met CCMABs guidelines we will complete the Nomination application document and submit it to CCMAB. If accepted our nomination will move forward to UNESCO Paris for approval.

Q. Are First Nations supportive?

A. There is interest expressed by the Squamish Nation in the opportunities that a Biosphere Region designation by UNESCO would provide.  

Status of the Initiative

Status of the Initiative

Our volunteer working group is targeting November 2017 to submit a completed draft nomination form to the Canadian Commission for Man and the Biosphere (CCMAB).  We envision the year 2020 to be celebrating the designation by UNESCO if accepted.

At present we are seeking authors of sections on: Overviews, Key Habitats, Species, and Threats related to: Forest, Rivers, Lakes, Rare Endangered Species, Important Wildlife.  If you are interested in participating and have professional working knowledge in these areas within the proposed boundary, please contact us. 

Support for the Initiative has been growing as word spreads about the opportunity.  We are seeking more opportunities to engage with those who live, work and play in the Howe Sound Region. To-date our initiative is supported in writing by the District of West Vancouver, Village of Lions Bay, Bowen Island Municipality, District of Squamish, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, Squamish Lillooet Regional District, Town of Gibsons, Gambier Island Local Trust and the Sunshine Coast Regional District. The Suzuki Foundation and other conservation groups are sending letters of support for the initiative.  Interested in having us speak to your group? We welcome the opportunity to inform and answer your questions.