Jo Overty, Project Manager, UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man
In the latest in a series of articles on the UNESCO Biosphere on the Isle of Man, we take a look at our partnership program.
We invite organizations across the Isle of Man to make our commitment to the biosphere and become biosphere partners.
Partners range from government departments and local authorities to businesses, charities, and cultural and community groups. The 38 Isle of Man schools are UNESCO Partners for the Isle of Man Biosphere.
Partners are committed to protecting natural resources, having a positive environmental impact, developing the economy in a sustainable manner, supporting and promoting our culture and heritage, engaging with the community and promoting landscapes land and sea of the island.
All of these actions contribute to a more sustainable Isle of Man.
Our Stakeholder Partnership Steering Group has opted for a free, easy-to-request partnership program to encourage organizations to participate.
We would prefer that many organizations strive to “do their part” rather than having only a few elite partners capable of reaching all points of engagement.
So there are no inspections; person with clipboards coming.
The partnership application process encourages organizations to assess what they are already contributing to the biosphere.
A director of a well-established mid-sized Manx company recently told us that when she asked for a partnership, it was the first time that the entire workforce sat down to figure out what it “represented” as a company.
She said great ideas have also emerged.
But the process does not end once the partnership is awarded.
We have many encouraging conversations with partners about the changes they are encouraged to make in their organizations just because they are involved. You could tell they have the biosphere virus.
We even have Biosphere partners who form networks and at least one who buys goods and services he needs only from other Biosphere partners, where he can.
Businesses, in particular, can have a huge positive impact on sustainability.
They produce, pack, consume, transport objects, light and heat the premises.
The decisions they make and the actions they take can not only help our biosphere and our planet, but can also influence their employees and customers.
The sizes of our business partners range from local branches of large multinational companies with their own extended corporate social responsibility commitments to individual start-ups looking to ‘do the right thing’.
We are fortunate to have a Masters intern from University College Isle of Man working with us every year, in line with one of Biospheres’ three global goals: to encourage learning.
Our business partners have been supported by a series of sustainable practices webinars as part of our 2020 intern project. Our current intern is surveying companies to ask what help they need to adopt sustainable practices and will create a box tool based on its findings.
We also have a private Facebook group where business partners can exchange information.
Events suffered during Covid but, as we recover, we aspire to have more events where partners can meet to exchange ideas.
We have nearly 300 proud partners, displaying the distinctive “sandcastle” certificate, appearing on our website and in our newsletters and using our logo.
If you would like to demonstrate your commitment to a more sustainable Isle of Man and join them, go to the “Get Involved” section of our website, www.biosphere.im