What does the future hold for biosphere reserves? What measures must be taken for them to meet the challenges of today? These questions will be the focus of debates at the third World Congress of Biosphere Reserves which will take place in Madrid (Spain) from 4 to 9 February. The Congress will also take stock of the current Biosphere Reserves Programme and define objectives for the five years ahead.Presentations by the Prince of Asturias, Felipe de Borbón y Grecia, and the Spanish Minister for the Environment, Cristina Narbona will open the meeting. The event will bring together environment ministers, UNESCO representatives, scientists, policy-makers and biosphere reserve managers. They will also attend the 20th International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme which will take place at the same time as the Congress. In all, some 1000 participants from all over the world are expected.