Global Geoparks Network (GGN), is a non-profit International Association officially established in 2014 subject to French legislation. The Global Geoparks Network is the official partner of UNESCO for the operation of the UNESCO Global Geoparks.
The GGN was initially founded in 2004 as an international partnership developed under the umbrella of UNESCO and serves to develop models of best practice and set quality-standards for territories that integrate the protection preservation of Earth heritage sites in a strategy for regional sustainable economic development.
The objectives of the Global Geoparks Network are:
- to promote the equitable geographical establishment, development and professional management of Global Geoparks,
- to advance knowledge and understanding of the nature, function and role of Global Geoparks;
- to assist local communities to value their natural and cultural heritage;
- to preserve Earth heritage for present and future generations;
- to educate and teach the broad public about issues in geo-sciences and their relation with environmental matters and natural hazards.
- to ensure sustainable socio-economic and cultural development based on the natural (or geological) system
- to foster multi-cultural links between heritage and conservation and the maintenance of geological and cultural diversity, using participatory schemes of partnership and management;
- to stimulate research when appropriate;
- to promote joint initiatives between Global Geoparks (e.g. communication, publications, exchange of information, twinning).
Currently, the GGN has 169 UNESCO Global Geopark members in 44 countries.
UNESCO Global Geoparks
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 Organisation supports Member States’ efforts to establish UNESCO Global Geoparks all around the world, in close collaboration with the Global Geoparks Network.
- Thus, what are UNESCO Global Geoparks?
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.
- How does a UNESCO Global Geopark achieve its goals?
A UNESCO Global 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.
Regional geoparks networks
Under Article 18 of The Global Geoparks Network (GGN) Statues and the UNESCO International Geosciences and Geoparks Programme (UNESCO-IGGP), the regional geoparks networks of the GGN have been established:
- European Geoparks Network http://www.europeangeoparks.org/
- Asia Pacific Geoparks Network http://asiapacificgeoparks.org/
- Latin America and Caribbean Geoparks Network http://www.redgeolac.org/
- African Geoparks Network
Their main role is to coordinate the activities of GGN in the UNESCO regions, to promote networking between global geoparks and geopark professionals in the region and to provide support for sustainable economic development in geopark areas.