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Sustainability Conference 2008

Brighton & Hove – the first 'Urban Biosphere City'?

Notes of the speeches made at this conference can be accessed by clicking here.

date: Thursday 30 – Friday 31 October 2008
Urban Biosphere Reserve

venue: Bellerbys Brighton Study Centre, Brighton

This year's Sustainability Conference will look at how biodiversity might shape Brighton & Hove. The aim of the conference is to contribute to international debate about the greening of cities as well as to help local decision makers take biodiversity into account in city planning.

Brighton & Hove’s Sustainable Community Strategy includes a commitment to work towards designation of the city ‘as the first UK Urban Biosphere Reserve’.

Urban Biosphere Reserve

Urban Biosphere Reserve

Biosphere Reserves, designated by UNESCO in partnership with national governments, could be described as ‘centres of excellence’ where conserving ecosystems and biodiversity is actively prioritised, alongside economic and social development.

Currently, all Biosphere Reserves are rural, but UNESCO has recognised the need to establish the same ecological principles in urban areas and there has been much debate internationally about what a ‘biosphere city’ might look like.

Typically cities consume food, water and other ‘ecological services’, sometimes from vast distances away, and produce pollutants and waste which must be ‘processed’ by their surrounding natural environment. Most cities owe a huge ‘ecological debt’ to their rural hinterlands which can only be sustained because cities cover a relatively small proportion of the globe.

But cities are growing – and fast. In 2007 over half the world’s population became city dwellers. More than ever before, we need to find ways for cities to be more ecologically sustainable.

Sustainability Conference 2008
Urban Biosphere Reserve

This year the Sustainability Conference is over two days and is jointly organised by the University of Brighton and Brighton & Hove City Council, and will be supported by the Environment Agency.

The conference will aim to address the following questions as well as contribute to the international debate about the future role of ecology in cities:

-What would designation as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve mean for Brighton & Hove?
-How might the wider Brighton & Hove community be engaged in helping to achieve Biosphere Reserve status?
-How might being a ‘biosphere city’ affect the day-to-day lives of people living in and visiting Brighton & Hove?
-How might it help to guide policy and shape new development, transport, education and housing?

Day One, chaired by Stuart Laing, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the university, and Alan McCarthy, Chief Executive of the council, will look at how being a biosphere city might affect strategic issues such as economic and social development, housing, education, health and food production.

Day Two, chaired by Dr Niall Burnside, of Brighton University will take a local perspective, looking at how local communities might benefit. Day Two will also include a series of workshops where delegates will have the opportunity to engage in exploring key issues in more depth.

Urban Biosphere Reserve

A full conference schedule will be available soon but confirmed speakers include:
-Sir John Harman, until recently Chair of the Environment Agency
-Professor Thomas Elmqvist, Stockholm University, Sweden, a key contributor to the international debate on Urban Biosphere Reserves and to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
-Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development at the Centre for Environmental Strategy in the University of Surrey
-Mathew Frith, urban ecologist from the Peabody Trust

Delegate and stall-holder registration
If you would like to register for the conference as a delegate and/or as a stall-holder please complete the conference registration form. Once we have received your completed form we will send you confirmation of your place.

If you have any further queries please email:

Go to Brighton and Hove City Council's website for further information and details on how to take part.

This page was last updated by Dave on 22-Dec-2008
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