Canada’s biosphere regions celebrated at Parliament Hill

On the last day of October, Canada’s 19 UNESCO-designated biosphere reserves, also known as biosphere regions, were honoured at a special, non-partisan “Day on the Hill” reception in Ottawa.

Members of Parliament (MPs) and other supporters gathered to recognize and celebrate the significant contributions of these vital regions to biodiversity conservation, climate action, reconciliation, and sustainable development. Hosted by the All-Party Climate Caucus and organized by the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association (CBRA), the event highlighted the diversity and influence of the national BR network, along with the unique characteristics and efforts of the individual regions and organizations.

Over twenty parliamentarians, as well as dignitaries and guests, attended the gathering, which was held as a lead-up to the November 3rd  International Day for Biosphere Reserves. Participants gained insights into how BRs are making a difference in the lives of over 2.8 million Canadians, in 41 federal ridings represented by MPs from four political parties. They also learned how the network is collaboratively addressing key issues while aligning with federal commitments. 

“Biosphere regions empower people at the community level to model solutions for a sustainable future. They are known as amazing places for sharing local, Indigenous, and scientific knowledge and creating local solutions to global challenges.”

Greg Mason, Director of Operations at Georgian Bay Mnidoo Gamii Biosphere.

Collaboration Beyond Political Differences

The event was co-sponsored by parliamentarians affiliated with both the All-Party Climate Caucus and the work of biosphere regions, including Gord Johns, NDP MP for Courtenay-Alberni, BC (representing Mount Arrowsmith & Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserves); Julie Dabrusin, Liberal MP for Toronto-Danforth, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and to the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources; Yves Perron, Bloc Québécois MP for Berthier—Maskinongé; Mike Morrice, Green Party MP for Kitchener-Centre, and Chris D’Entremont, Deputy Speaker and Conservative MP for West Nova (representing the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve). Guest speakers included the Secretary General of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, Yves-Gérard Méhou-Loko.

“The Clayoquot Sound and the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Regions provide residents and visitors to Vancouver Island with valuable opportunities to learn about our sensitive ecosystems and diverse wildlife, to practice conservation and sustainability, and to be an active participant in reconciliation with First Nations people, all at the same time and in the same place,” MP Gord Johns said.

During the event, the president of Lac Saint-Pierre Biosphere Reserve, Henri-Paul Normandin, and CBRA’s Executive Director, Kate Potter, highlighted the importance of BRs getting long-term funding to support their initiatives. They made a call-to-action for the MPs to be the champions BRs need to help secure ongoing funding to turn pilot projects into enduring programs and turn the promise of sustainable development into a lasting legacy.


On November 2nd, the eve of International Day for Biosphere Reserves, MP Gord Johns made a statement in the House of Commons celebrating the contributions of BRs to Canada. “My own riding of Courtenay-Alberni is blessed with two biosphere reserves, the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust and the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region. I know that all members who are fortunate to have a biosphere reserve in their ridings will join me in paying tribute to the important work of the biosphere region movement in our country. Biosphere reserves are of critical importance, conducting participatory research and supporting environmental, social, cultural and economic sustainability,” he said.

About the CBRA

The Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association serves as the national voice for a network of 19 UNESCO-designated biosphere regions/reserves (BRs) across Canada. Through capacity building and knowledge sharing, we provide them with the tools, resources, and support they need to amplify their collective impact.

As a national network, we are a powerful force for achieving global sustainability targets, and our impact extends beyond the present time: not only are we forging strong, healthy communities across Canada today, but also equipping the next generation of environmental leaders.   

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A photo of boats at Alma Warf in the Southwest Nova Biosphere Region.