Developing Starlight connections with UNESCO sites through the Biosphere Smart

The large number of UNESCO Sites around the world, in outstanding sites ranging from small islands to cities, makes it possible to build and share a comprehensive knowledge base on good practices and policies on the preservation of the night skies consistent with the protection of the associated scientific, natural and cultural values. In this context, the Starlight Initiative and other organizations such as IDA play a catalytic role in an essential international process to promote comprehensive, holistic approaches on dark sky preservation, astronomical observation, environmental protection, responsible lighting, sustainable energy, climate change and global sustainability.

Many of these places have the potential to become models of excellence to foster the recovery of the dark skies and its defence against light pollution, included some case studies mentioned in the Portal to the Heritage of Astronomy. Fighting light pollution and recovering starry sky are already elements of a new emerging culture in biosphere reserves and world heritage sites committed to acting on climate change and sustainable development. Over thirty territories, including biosphere reserves and world heritage sites, have been developed successful initiatives to ensure night sky quality and promote sustainable lighting. Clear night skies also provide sustainable income opportunities as tourists and visitors are eagerly looking for sites with impressive night skies.

Taking into account the high visibility and the ability of UNESCO sites to replicate network experiences, the Starlight Initiative has launched an action In cooperation with Biosphere Smart, aimed at promoting the Benchmark sites. Biosphere Smart is a global observatory created in partnership with UNESCO MaB Programme to share good practices, and experiences among UNESCO sites. The Benchmark sites window allows access to all the information of the most relevant astronomical heritage sites, dark sky protected areas and other places committed to the preservation of the values associated with the night sky. A new step ahead in our common task of protecting the starry skies at UNESCO sites.

Cipriano Marin

AUTHORS/INSTITUTIONS: C. Marin, Starlight Initiative / UNESCO Center Canary Islands, Santa cruz de tenerife, Canary Islands, SPAIN


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