UNESCO Summer University in Bulgaria

For the first time, Bulgaria hosted the UNESCO Summer University, which aims to provide high-quality training for students, young scientists and practitioners from biosphere reserves from Europe and the Mediterranean and was held between 21st  and 28th of July in the Central Balkan Biosphere Reserve area. This year the theme was "Integrated management, sustainable tourism and promotion of biosphere reserves" and participants were engaged through an active learning process, an opportunity to develop ideas for joint projects aimed at biosphere reserves while experiencing the rich natural and cultural sites of the Central Balkan.

For one week the participants were able to get acquainted with the natural, cultural and tourist advantages of the Central Balkan Biosphere Reserve. The program included, in addition to a theoretical and practical part, a visit to the landmarks of the towns of Karlovo and Troyan, the farms “At the Foot of the Balkan Mountain” in the village of Vasil Levski, Karlovsko and the organic farm "Rosino Organic Farm" in the village of Rosino, the tourist attractions lift "Sopot" and the White River Eco-trail, the Damascena Complex, eco-hotels, guest houses and more. During their participation, they were able to learn more about rose oil production in the area of ​​Pavel Banya, winemaking in Chateau Copsa and more. They also tasted delicious local products and learned more about Cherni Vit's green cheese. They enjoyed Bulgarian authentic folklore presented by the ensemble of the Vasil Levski National Community Center in 1861, Karlovo and shared many other interesting points.

The Central Balkan Biosphere Reserve covers an area of ​​369 thousand ha, including 5 municipalities and 7 nature reserves, as well as over 580 km of hiking trails (for horseback riding, cycling and wildlife watching). Parts of it have been protected since 1948, and the site was declared a biosphere reserve with its current boundaries in 2017.
The Summer University was held in both the northern and southern parts of the Central Balkan BR and aimed to promote the " Man and the Biosphere ”(MAB) in the region. In this respect, although the protected area is well known, the concept of BR and the opportunities it provides are not yet well understood and encouraged, and additional information is needed.

The trainers were over 35 young people under the age of 35 from 15 different countries actively working in biosphere reserves or from areas nominating their territory under the MAB program, as well as young scientists working on sustainable development, biosphere reserves, environmental policies, tourism and protected areas.

At the final meeting, young professionals from 15 countries presented their recommendations and proposals for future projects and initiatives, both locally and internationally. These were summarized after collaboration between lecturers and trainers in the following four groups: large-scale joint communication projects promoting the Human and Biosphere Program (locally and internationally); connecting and involving young people in the Human and Biosphere Network; improving local products and tourism services for the sustainable development of the territory; education for sustainable development within biosphere reserves.
Among the most interesting proposals are: setting up a National Youth Committee for Biosphere Reserves; development of a common integrated map of the tourism potential of the Central Balkan Biosphere Reserve; training the tourism sector in the opportunities offered by the Central Balkan Biosphere Reserve and more. The proposal to create a common brand for the biosphere reserve, including both tourist attractions located on its territory, as well as local production and products specific to the region, was also discussed.
All ideas will be presented to the representatives of the municipalities located on the territory of the Biosphere Reserve, as well as the Directorate of the Central Balkan National Park and will serve as the basis for the future even more successful management of the Central Balkan Biosphere Reserve.
At the end of the discussion, the Chairman of the UNESCO National Commission in Greece Michael Skoulos called on the Deputy Mayor of the Municipality
of Troyan and the management of the Central Balkan National Park to inform and actively involve in the discussions of the future of the biosphere reserve all interested parties - residents, local business, local institutions, tourism and non-governmental organizations, etc. For all of them to work together for the sustainable development of the area and to be proud of being a trademark of a biosphere reserve that is recognized and popular worldwide.

The detailed program of the event can be downloaded here: /files/File/Summer%20UNIVERSITY_program.pdf

Photo gallery can be seen here

All presentations from Summer University can be downloaded from here:
Vladimir Vladimirov, MAB Bulgaria /files/File/V.Vladimirov_Bulgarian%20MAB%20Committee.ppt

Stanislav Georgiev, RIEW Burgas - /files/File/S.Georgiev_Uzunbudzhak%20BR%20.pptx

Sergey Alexandrov, CBNP - /files/File/S.Aleksandrov_CBNP.pptx

Stoyan Stoyanov, PR /files/File/S.%20Stoyanov_Festivals%20as%20a%20promotional%20tool%20for%20attracting%20tourists.pptx

Rossen Vassilev, BBF - /files/File/R.Vassilev_Botanical%20Tours%20as%20an%20education%20and%20promotional%20tool.pptx

M.Scuollos, UNESCO Greece - /files/File/M.Scoullos_Integrated%20Approaches%20and%20Methods%20for%20the%20Sustainable%20Management%20of%20Biosphere%20Reserves.pptx

M.Scuollos, UNESCO Greece - /files/File/M.Scoullos_Education%20for%20Sustainable%20Development%20(ESD)%20.pptx

M.Petrov, Srebarna - /files/File/M.Petrov_Srebarna_BR.ppt

Katrin Tomova - /files/File/K.Tomova_Welcome%20to%20the%20Summer_University_BG_BBF.pptx

J.Baker - /files/File/J.Baker_Overview%20of%20MaB%20Programme.pptx

F.Lenzerini - /files/File/F.Lenzerini_Exchange%20of%20experiences%20and%20peer%20training%20among%20local%20stakeholders%20in%20BRs.pptx

F.Lenzerini - /files/File/F.Lenzerini_BR%20Branding%20Strategies.pptx

Eleonora Yosifova, BAAT - /files/File/E.Yosifova_Sustainable%20tourism%20-%20mission%20possible.pptx

Desislava Dimitrova, Slow Food  - /files/File/D.%20Dimitrova_Food%20Culture%20and%20Biodiversity%20Conservation.pptx

Sergey Alexandrov, Central Balkan BR - /files/File/S.Aleksandrov_CBBR.pptx

S.Nedkov - /files/File/S_Nedkov_Ecocystem%20services.pdf

The results from the group work and the presentations at the final event could be found here: 

Group A - /files/File/Group_A_Joint%20communication%20project%20among%20Biosphere%20Reserves.pptx

Group B - /files/File/Group_B_Involving%20young%20people%20in%20BR.pptx

Group C - /files/File/Group_C_Enhancement%20of%20local%20products%20and%20tourist%20services%20for%20the%20sustainable%20development%20of%20the%20territory.pptx

Group D - /files/File/Group_D_Education%20for%20sustainable%20development.pptx

A list of the participants and their contracts: /files/File/Contact%20List.pdf

Press releases from the University could be found here (some of them are only in Bulgarian): 

България ще е домакин на Летния университет на ЮНЕСКО

Посещение с кауза в биоферма Розино

UNESCO Summer University will be in the "Central Balkan" Biosphere Reserve

UNESCO Summer University will start on 21st of July

UNESCO Summer University was opened in Karlovo

Second day of UNESCO Summer University was devoted to sustainable tourism and management of biosphere reserves

Day 5 from UNESCO Summer University - closing session, crafts and many interesting lectures

On the 6th day the participants visit the exhibition center Oreshak and the Troyan Monastery

At the closing session of UNESCO Summer University was discussed the future perspectives of BR Central Balkan

Main organiser of UNESCO Summer University is Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation with the support of: the Central Balkan Biosphere ReserveUNESCO Regional Bureau of Science and Culture in EuropeMinistry of Environment and Water of the Republic of BulgariaMediterranean Information Office for Environment, Culture and Sustainable DevelopmentUNESCO Chair and Network on Sustainable Development Management and Education in the Mediterranean of the University of AthensKarlovo MunicipalityTroyan Municipality, Permanent Representation of UNESCO in Bulgaria, local organic pharms, winery, hotels, which are hosts and sponsors of the events in the region. 
Other partners: Chateau CopsaRozino Organic Farm and Gelatto and LatteLift SopotHotel Casa Art, Oreshak, Troyan, National Exhibition of Crafts and Arts in Oreshak, “Edinenie” (Unity) project