First Social Investor on OASIIS


Ayrshire social enterprise programme What if…Girvan is to become the first social investor on the OASIIS platform, which connects UNESCO Biospheres worldwide.

What If… Girvan, delivered by Firstport, Scotland’s social enterprise development agency, is also a “Proud Supporter” of the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere.

Girvan and South Carrick villages, which are covered by the What If…Girvan social enterprise development programme, sit within the biosphere’s transition zone. It is one of a network of 669 Biosphere Reserves spread across 120 countries throughout the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBRs). There are six Biosphere Reserves in the UK two of which are in Scotland – Galloway and Southern Ayrshire and Wester Ross.

What If... Girvan is the first social investor to partner with OASIIS (Opening Access to Sustainable Independent Income Streams), an online platform designed to promote sustainable development in and around UNESCO biosphere reserves. Developed by Scottish social enterprise ASC, an early beneficiary of Firstport, the platform aims to engage social entrepreneurs and local businesses that are delivering social and environmental benefits and provide them with an opportunity to connect with other like-minded businesses via the OASIIS platform – locally, nationally and internationally - to share information and provide access to new markets and investment opportunities.

The What If programme’s online presence on OASIIS goes live today (Friday 23 March), coinciding with the two year anniversary of the OASIIS platform and the launch of the first ever OASIIS Biennial Report, which sheds light on the potential of social entrepreneurship for sustainable development.  

See: What If...Girvan's OASIIS profile



Sally Johnston, What If…Girvan programme manager, said: “Biosphere Reserves such as Galloway and Southern Ayrshire are a perfect fit for social enterprises, which invest in people and the environment and help create flourishing and robust communities.

“The OASIIS/What If…Girvan partnership will link individuals and social enterprises to activity and opportunities within the global network of biospheres. Having a digital presence on OASIIS will enable them to make their impacts internationally visible and connect with new markets and partners worldwide. What If.. Girvan offers opportunities to individuals starting up and looking to develop social enterprises in the biosphere area.’’

Colin Campbell, ASC and OASIIS founder, said: “We are delighted to welcome What If… Girvan onto the OASIIS platform as the first social investor. This opens up a fantastic opportunity for social entrepreneurs to access investment that can support them to contribute to making their communities more resilient and sustainable while working in harmony with the values of their local Biosphere.

“The OASIIS platform currently hosts 16 UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, just 2% of the WNBRs, yet records US$ 11million turnover and over 500 employment and training opportunities being created by social entrepreneurs within these areas. OASIIS is also recording, and probably underestimating, 395 direct actions towards the UN SDGs from organisations on OASIIS.

“We want to connect these social entrepreneurs with supportive UNESCO Biosphere Reserves and with markets, partnerships, ideas, knowledge, and inspiration across our collective WNBRs. The recently published first OASIIS Biennial Report also brings together case studies from across the world, including several from Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere. The potential of social entrepreneurship for sustainable development within the World Network of Biosphere Reserves is tremendous. Our partnership with What If…Girvan will allow us to help continue to connect Girvan and the South Carrick villages with opportunities across the international OASIIS membership.”



Anyone who has a business idea that could make a positive difference in Girvan and the South Carrick villages can contact Sally at or on 07501 950 413. Firstport offers one to one business support to develop ideas, up to £3000 in funding to test it, along with training, leadership development, mentoring and peer support. 

Any social enterprises or local businesses delivering on social and environmental benefits based within the Biosphere are welcome to register on the OASIIS platform at and contact Tabi at or on 0750 4524 792, for opportunities to connect with other businesses, create new partnerships, enter new markets and learn from other social entrepreneurs.

Launch of the first OASIIS Biennial Report 2018

Shining a light in the Anthropocene

The value of social entrepreneurship toward sustainable development in UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves


Two years from its launch, previously unavailable data from the OASIIS platform has been collated into the first OASIIS Biennial Report, demonstrating the opportunities that exists for business to benefit from the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve world network, while enabling innovation in response to climate change, social welfare and access to investment towards the UN SDGs.

The intention of this initiative is twofold; to identify and benchmark the impact of enterprises that incorporate social and environmental benefits and to attract investment to them.





ASC is a social enterprise delivering a collective asset for the social entrepreneur and Biosphere Reserve community, we invite you to become an active supporter by donating here!

Your donation will fund the development of OASIIS, to bring the next generation of opportunity to local communities acting for sustainable development.

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Cletwr Event Report

Visit to Appennino Tosco Emiliano Biosphere Reserve (19-21 October 2017) Cletwr Event Report

Photo Credit: ASC

I attended a 2-day event which was organised jointly by the Appennino Tosco-Emiliano Biosphere and OASIIS (Opening Access to Sustainable Independent Income Streams). The latter is an online platform that is managed by ‘Assist Social Capital’, a Scotland based social enterprise. OASIIS is set up to collect information as evidence of the contribution of social enterprises and SDG businesses in contributing to the development of a sustainable economy in biosphere reserves across the world.

“Social enterprises and social entrepreneurs are keys to unlock the future and create sustainable change”

Cletwr has registered on OASIIS (thanks to work from Suzanne), so Cletwr is out there in that particular international dimension. We will probably need to up-date the information that we have given them as our business develops and our impact within Dyfi Biosphere Reserve grows.

I was invited to Italy to talk about Cletwr as an example of a successful social enterprise within a biosphere reserve. I presented at the main ‘talking’ event and then more informally at a workshop that was going on in a village called Succiso. The latter was attended by people from all over Italy and was about developing community enterprises.

This event was the first ever international biosphere event to only focus on economic and sustainable development rather than the natural environment. A central purpose of the whole workshop was to look at how social/community led enterprises had developed in the Appennino Tosco Emiliano and to discuss the issue of branding. There are problems about creating a biosphere brand because this would have to be regulated and monitored. Also UNESCO has issues with the use of their logo to promote business activities. I CARE APPENNINO is thought to be a good phrase to indicate that a product/activity has the biosphere values at its core but is not strictly a brand.

Photo Credit: Erk Concari

We heard about and visited a variety of types of communitarian enterprise. Some agri-co-operatives had been established for several decades. These drew agri-producers together to help in producing and marketing. We also heard about businesses that had resulted from people coming into the area or returning when they combined farming and another activity e.g. tourism/outdoor activities. One impressive project had resulted in the restoration of a nearly deserted mountain village so that it is now a holiday village but which also has a high class restaurant, a honey farm and chestnut products. The project most similar to Cletwr was the community project at Succiso. This village had been destroyed by an earthquake/landslide and had been given new life and restart when the community took over the existing bar. From that a shop, café, community meeting place and other activities had developed.

Local produce is very important in the Appennino area and in Italy generally. They have a ‘zero kilometre’ accreditation, which indicates the use of local food in restaurants.

Messages for Dyfi Biosphere and Cletwr

Photo Credit: Cletwr

  1. Make reference to being in the Dyfi Biosphere on all our literature. See the good example of the Dyfi Distillery leaflet
  2. Act as an information hub for the Dyfi Biosphere. Suggest that we give Biosphere more space in the Interpretation Hub; that we fly a Biosphere Flag; that we have events when we promote biosphere products.
  3. Continue to contribute to the Biosphere Food Cluster and OASIIS international network
  4. Continue to make contacts with similar businesses in other biosphere reserves.
  5. Host regular ‘Get to Know the Dyfi Biosphere’ action days when our customers can be introduced to the biosphere.
  6. Share the benefits of being on OASIIS to other enterprises in Dyfi Biosphere Reserve.


Thanks to Shelagh Hourahane for contributing this piece

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Event programme

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with financial support from the EU

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 Biosphere Reserves & the Sustainable Development Goals

UNESCO Biosphere Reserves and the Sustainable Development Goals

August - October 2017

191 Answers, 3 Recommendations


Download the full report here: UNESCO Biosphere Reserves & the Sustainable Development Goals

Report conclusion

Our aims were to provide a platform for citizen participation in developing UNESCO Biosphere Reserves as global models towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In order to help create resilient and sustainable communities, to raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals and to disseminate the gathered lessons from throughout the Biosphere Reserve global network.

This Community Insights Report has been made possible by the digital participation of 191 people from over 40 different countries. The project has reached over 50,000 people indirectly, via social media. It is therefore a truly collaborative effort and the results will be disseminated throughout our networks. We request that you also forward this Community Insights Report to raise awareness of the SDGs, the potential of SDG centric businesses and to inform decision making within UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

We are committed to the three resulting Recommendations:


UNESCO Biosphere Reserves as an enabling and inspiring space for businesses which align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. BRs acting as facilitators rather than implementers of sustainable development, catalysing and leveraging opportunities for sustainable businesses.

Linked to 140 participants


Harness the potential of UNESCO Biosphere Reserve designation and the skills and experience of citizens to facilitate, accelerate and incubate opportunities for local and global residents.

Linked to 133 participants


Promote and raise the profile of citizens economic activities and initiatives under UNESCO Biosphere Reserve designation both locally and globally. In order to spread knowledge, access new markets, be immediately identifiable and connect with economic benefit whilst aligning with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Linked to 138 participants

We hope that this Community Insights Report will increase opportunity for local citizens to benefit from UNESCO Biosphere Reserve designation and to unlock the potential it holds for economic development.

Download the full report here: UNESCO Biosphere Reserves & the Sustainable Development Goals

with financial support from the EU

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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