UNESCO Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development. Their bottom-up approach of combining conservation with sustainable development while involving local communities is becoming increasingly popular. At present, there are 140 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 38 countries. Information sheets on the UNESCO Global Geoparks by country are available, with detailed information on each site.
UNESCO’s work with geoparks began in 2001. In 2004, 17 European and 8 Chinese geoparks came together at UNESCO headquarters in Paris to form the Global Geoparks Network (GGN) where national geological heritage initiatives contribute to and benefit from their membership of a global network of exchange and cooperation.
On 17 November 2015, the 195 Member States of UNESCO ratified the creation of a new label, the UNESCO Global Geoparks, during the 38th General Conference of the Organisation. This expresses governmental recognition of the importance of managing outstanding geological sites and landscapes in a holistic manner.
The Organization supports Member States’ efforts to establish UNESCO Global Geoparks all around the world, in close collaboration with the Global Geoparks Network.
Frequently Asked Questions about Geopark
A GEOPARK is a nationally protected area containing a number of geological heritage sites of particular importance, rarity or aesthetic appeal. These Earth heritage sites are part of an integrated concept of protection, education and sustainable development.
A GEOPARK achieves its goals through a three-pronged approach:
CONSERVATION: A GEOPARK seeks to conserve significant geological features, and explore and demonstrate methods for excellence in conservation. The management authority of each GEOPARK ensures adequate protection measures in consultation with collaborating universities, geological surveys or relevant statutory bodies in accordance with local traditions and legislative obligations.
EDUCATION: A GEOPARK organizes activities and provides logistic support to communicate geoscientific knowledge and environmental concepts to the public. This is accomplished through protected and interpreted geosites, museums, information centres, trails, guided tours, school class excursions, popular literature, maps, educational materials and displays, seminars and so on. A GEOPARK also fosters scientific research and cooperation with universities and research institutes, stimulating the dialogue between the geosciences and local populations.
GEOTOURISM: A GEOPARK stimulates economic activity and sustainable development through geotourism. By attracting increasing numbers of visitors, a GEOPARK stimulates local socio-economic development through the promotion of a quality label linked with the local natural heritage. It encourages the creation of local enterprises and cottage industries involved in geotourism and geoproducts.
Geoparks stands for:
Education and popularization of science play an important part within the broad range of educational activities happening in Geoparks for all groups of populations. (Show Geopark examples and websites)
Geo-Science – and research based on geological settings, with back-up from academics – come naturally in Geoparks.
Cultural aspects within a Geopark, significant for regional identity, are living tangible and intangible components, and are an integral part of a Geopark; they are closely related to the landscape people live in.
A sound Communication and PR strategy is an essential part of the Global Geoparks Network, and members are not just members of a list; membership means active communication between Geopoarks across physical and political boundaries, leading to cooperation projects and true exchange.