Two From Asia Win UNESCO’s Man And The Biosphere Young Scientists Awards

Two early-career scientists from Indonesia and the Philippines were recognized for their efforts to promote sustainable development in ecosystems.

AsianScientist (Nov. 24, 2020) – Two early-career researchers from Asia—Dr. Radisti Praptiwi and Dr. Laure de Ville D’Avray—have received the 2020 Young Scientist Awards from UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) program. The selection was announced during the MAB Council’s annual meeting, held virtually on 27 and 28 October 2020.

As the world inches closer towards 2030, much attention has been focused on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set by the United Nations. Of the 17 SDGs, Life on Land and Life Below Water respectively focus on the sustainable use of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. And with good reason: every year, 13 million hectares of forest are lost. Meanwhile, around 13,000 pieces of plastic litter can be found on every square kilometer of our oceans.

Given the impacts of human activity on our surroundings, the MAB program aims to safeguard already-vulnerable ecosystems while improving human livelihoods through innovative approaches to economic development.

One of the many ways MAB achieves its goals is through the Young Scientists Awards, which has recognized early-career researchers carrying out projects on ecosystems, natural resources and biodiversity since 1989. Up to US$5,000 is granted to promising researchers each year to support their work.

This year, six young scientists received the award. Two of the winners come from Asia: Praptiwi and de Ville D’Avray, who hail from Indonesia and the Philippines, respectively. The two were recognized for their research undertaken at biosphere reserves designated by the MAB. Spanning over 700 sites in 124 countries, these reserves are essentially test beds for sustainable development.

For instance, Praptiwi’s project revolves around understanding the impact of climate change in tropical marine areas of Indonesia’s Taka Bonerate Kepulauan Selayar biosphere reserve. Specifically, her work explores climate change’s effects on cultural ecosystem services—activities that include tourism and traditional customs.

Meanwhile, in the Philippines’ Palawan biosphere reserve, de Ville d’Avray studies the influence of artificial reefs on fish communities and their potential socio-economic benefits. As suggested by its name, artificial reefs are manmade structures installed by marine conservationists to mimic natural reefs. Such artificial reefs are meant to be colonized by marine flora and fauna, promoting biodiversity.

Other recipients of the award come from Nigeria, Cuba and Romania. Nominations for the 2021 MAB Young Scientists Awards are now open and are due to close on 15 January 2021.


Source: UNESCO; Illustration: Oi Keat Lam/Asian Scientist Magazine
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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