Media Release                                                                                                           June 14, 2011

BTH Master's Students Invited to Present

Strategic Community Engagement Workshop at UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Conference

Karlskrona, Sweden- A team of recent graduates from the Master's in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability Programme at the Blekinge Technical Institute have been invited to share their research findings with UNESCO Biosphere Reserve representatives from 33 countries from Europe and North America.

Pierre Johnson and Melinda Jolley will host an interactive workshop based on their thesis "Strategic Methods in Community Engagement for UNESCO Biosphere Reserves."  More than 100 delegates and specialists in Biosphere Reserves and the Man And the Biosphere Programme (MAB)  will be in attendance at the 2011 EuroMAB Conference taking place in Sweden this July (www.euromab2011.com). The BTH research team will join some of Sweden's top sustainability experts including researchers from the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

"It is the first time Sweden has hosted the EuroMAB conference, so we are looking forward to sharing the work of researchers like Pierre and Melinda with our European and North American colleagues," said EuroMAB conference producer, Maria Thorell.

"Through our Master's in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability Programme, we challenge our students to dive into difficult research projects and then present their findings in a way that can bring about real change in terms of moving regions towards a more sustainable future," said MSLS Programme Manager Tamara Connell. "This team of students has taken up this challenge and I am sure their work will inspire positive change."

The UNESCO Biosphere Reserve designation program was developed in the 1970's as a conservation program and has evolved to now balance conservation with social, cultural and economic development, all within a regional planning context.  There are 564 Biosphere Reserves globally and 20 new regions are added yearly.

Pierre Johnson and Melinda Jolley worked with fellow student Kellee Jackson to explore methods in community engagement that were linked to higher levels of transparency, cooperation, involvement, inclusiveness and openness within the planning process.  They also offered advice on how to make the current planning process more effective when moving regions towards a more sustainable future.

The team has prepared an online "Handbook on Strategic Methods in Community Engagement" that has been created for organizations or regions to use when looking for advice on community engagement within a sustainability context.   They have just launched this online resource here.

The Blekinge Archipelago is one of the six regions included in this research, as it is currently in the process of applying for UNECO Biosphere Reserve designation.  Three other Swedish regions were included in the research, along with two in Canada.

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Contact: Melinda Jolley, cell: 0722938517, email: melindajolley [at] hotmail [dot] com

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