Adventure Centre for Education (ACE) Event Report

In October Assist Social Capital co-hosted an event in Appennino Tosco Emiliano Biosphere Reserve, Italy. The event aimed to bring businesses from UNESCO Biosphere Reserves (BRs) together to hear and discuss role of businesses within UNESCO BRs. Social Enterprises from BRs in Sweden, Scotland and Wales met with enterprises from Appennino Tosco Emiliano BR, and explored the benefits of UNESCO BR designation for business, the potential networks and markets which can be opened up from registration on the OASIIS Platform, and also took part in the launch of the new I Care Appennino brand. 

Adventure Centre for Education have sent us a review of the event:

The trip to the “Appennino Tosco Emiliano” Biosphere Reserve was an opportunity which I am pleased I did not turn down. As a social entrepreneur it is important to make the most of opportunities as you never know where they might lead. But it’s also important to manage your time appropriately, value for the organisation is paramount when considering pieces of work that can lead to organisational prosperity. This opportunity fitted into several areas for us.

Firstly as part of our value base the sharing of our experience and how we became a successful social enterprise is important. The knowledge that we have gained from over ten years of experiences can help others in the pursuit of their aspirations. Also being situated in a biosphere reserve we feel it is important to share how the symbiosis of the two work together. This event was an opportunity to foster discussion about what it means to be a social enterprise within a European Biosphere Reserve and what role do social enterprises play.

Secondly this event was a potential business opportunity. A chance to see a new area, and meet new contacts. A chance to tentatively explore the prospect of either working in partnership with similar organisations or creating adventure tourism packages as a bolt on to the work we already do. This trip hit both of these milestones for us.

The trip was really well organised from both sides with good pre trip information and a quality service when we arrived in Italy. Filippo the event organiser had laid on a packed itinerary of events for us to attend as well as the provision of excellent accommodation and hospitality.

The events themselves gave us the opportunity to talk about our respective organisations and our experiences of being a social enterprise in a Biosphere. These presentations were gratefully received with positive feedback from those who attended. But key for me was the opportunity to talk to some of those present. Here I got to meet with other businesses that operate in a similar field. That being outdoor activity provision in an education and commercial sector.

From these initial meetings we are looking at how we can take these connections to the next level so that we can learn and share from each other for the greater good. At the heart of what our organisations do is the development of people and a care for the natural environment. These core values surpass the difficulties of language and culture and with this intrinsic body of knowledge a spark of interest to connect and share has been ignited.

From this spark we plan to forge future links to develop these initial ideas and to see where we can take our Biosphere connections in creating prosperity through our respective organisations. This would not have been possible without our being part of the OASIIS network. Also our organisational host made sure that the events were appropriate and the right connections were there for those of us that attended.

It was also a privilege to play part in the development of the Appennino Tosco Emiliano Biosphere Reserve discussions on their development of the brand “I care Appennino”. I was able to share my experience of being a ‘Proud supporter’ of the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere and how best ACE/Adventure Carrick could build on the Biosphere UNESCO status. ACE are presently in the process of joining the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere certification process for Activity Providers. This new process will be rolling out in 2018.

Some of the potential plans for the future discussed since this trip include the research of other outdoor providers within the world Biosphere reserves. Contacting these organisations and creating a network in the hope that these links generate potential collaborations and knowledge sharing. This will obviously require some research time but we see the potential opportunities of a world network of outdoor providers living and working in Biospheres and the potential marketing that could come from this.

We will also be exploring the potential opportunity of creating an outdoor activity holiday package based in the “Appennino Tosco Emiliano” Biosphere Reserve that ACE could market in 2018/19 and utilizing our new found contacts.

ACE would like to give their up-most thanks all those who made this a worthwhile and valuable trip.

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Event programme

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with financial support from the EU

UNESCO International Workshop 19th -20th October

UNESCO International Workshop - The Role of Social Enterprise for UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Development

19-20 October 2017
Verrucole Castle – San Romano in Garfagnana (LU)
Appennino Tosco Emiliano Biosphere Reserve, Italy

What does it mean to be a business or social enterprise within a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve? How do social enterprises contribute to sustainable development? How can we recognise and support them?

Assist Social Capital CIC, Punto 3 and Appennino Tosco Emiliano Biosphere Reserve are partnering in order to welcome over 50 national and international delegates to explore these questions and hear, first hand, the experiences of thriving, local and international social enterprises that work within UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.

This partnership emerged after a common agenda to unite the three elements of sustainable development; environmental, social, and the often ignored, economic. By using community assets and existing business models, which reinvest their profits into communities rather than benefitting only a few individuals.

About the hosting partners

Assist Social Capital CIC (ASC), a Scottish social enterprise and co-leader of the Social Enterprise and Biosphere Reserve (SEBR) Network, a global thematic network, has developed the OASIIS Platform which connects businesses, aligned with UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, with social investment, based on the Scottish approach.

Punto 3, a member of the SEBR Network, is a consultancy that carries out sustainable development projects. The organisation specialises in green procurement, sustainability analysis, territorial marketing, sustainable tourism, environmental communication, participatory planning, and sustainable events as well as acting as an advisor for Appennino-TE Biosphere Reserve.

The Appennino-TE Biosphere Reserve was granted UNESCO designation in 2015 and is located in northern-central Italy, covering the Tuscan-Emilian Appennine ridge. Forming a rural Biosphere Reserve with plenty of cultural and biological diversity, where agriculture and tourism constitute the major economic activities. Like many rural areas across Europe, the Appennino-TE Biosphere Reserve suffers from low employment levels, poor transport links and an aging population through out-migration of young people in pursuit of stable employment, services and a brighter future.

About the Event

Appennino-TE Biosphere Reserve is taking an unconventional but ever more important stand, by putting sustainable economic development through local community enterprise as a high priority. They aim to inspire residents of the Biosphere Reserve to pursue the economic advantages that UNESCO designation can bring to the area. Several inspirational community businesses, both from the Appennino-TE BR and from BRs in; Scotland, Wales and Sweden who are doing just that, will share their stories and the opportunities they have gained through the UNESCO BR designation and the OASIIS Platform.

These businesses are already transforming previously isolated towns into hubs of tourism, gastronomy, care for their aging populations and local specialist products. At the same time, they are delivering on the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals by safeguarding the environment and local cultures; providing training and employment opportunities to local people; and connecting internationally through the social enterprise network. The workshop will be introduced by Johanna MacTaggart, National Coordinator of Swedish MAB and Co-Leader of the SEBR Network, who will discuss UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Programme and economic development.

“There has been an increasing focus on social entrepreneurship and social enterprises in biosphere reserves and the WNBR (World Network of Biosphere Reserves). Social entrepreneurship and social enterprises are driving mechanisms for change.” Johanna MacTaggart


During the event, we will be launching the ‘I Care Appennino’ brand in association with the innovative OASIIS Platform.  The brand and platform will unify businesses in order to realise the economic potential of the world-renowned UNESCO designation, held by over 600 sites globally. In addition to this, we will be exploring the results of a 21st-century method of wide-scale online participation. Open until 20th October, OASIIS-Insights has been collecting ideas, advice and knowledge on how communities, social enterprises and businesses can be supported in sustainable, inclusive economic development. The results from the platform will inform a policy discussion on the evening of the 19th October.

Delegates will be able to enjoy the rich gastronomic delights of the area, visit community businesses, participate in the opening of a community run school, contribute their advice to decision-makers, and register on the international OASIIS Platform. Delegates and discussions will cross-cut political levels, whilst integrating the often ignored, yet intrinsically connected, sustainable economic development, for Appennino BR, UNESCO sites and our collective future.

Take a read of the events programme here: UNESCO International Workshop - The Role of Social Enterprise

For further information please contact Tabi at or call on +44 (0) 750 4524 792


with financial support from the EU


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Event Programme

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OASIIS Insights