Unesco Global Geoparks
As UNESCO Global Geoparks can be recognized unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development.
Geoparks operation and management is characterized by bottom-up approach and networking. Their approach in combining conservation with sustainable development while involving local communities is becoming increasingly popular.
At present, there are 127 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 35 countries. The Lesvos island UNESCO Global Geopark was successfully revalidated in 2016 for the period 2017-2020.
UNESCO’s work with geoparks began in 2001. In 2004, 17 European geoparks (among them the Lesvos Petrified Forest) 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 International Geosciences and Geoparks Programme and through this the creation of a new label, the UNESCO Global Geoparks, during the 38th General Conference of the Organization. This expresses governmental recognition of the importance of managing outstanding geological sites and landscapes in a holistic manner.
UNESCO supports efforts to establish UNESCO Global Geoparks all around the world, in close collaboration with the Global Geoparks Network.
UNESCO Global Geoparks Council
The UNESCO Global Geoparks Council is responsible for assessing revalidated and new UNESCO Global Geopark nominations. It makes the decision on whether new applications should be forwarded to the Executive Board of UNESCO for endorsement. Furthermore it has a key advising role to the Director-General of UNESCO on the strategy, planning and implementation of UNESCO Global Geoparks.
The Council consists of 12 voting members, all high-profile experts chosen for their proven experience, scientific or professional qualifications. They are appointed by the Director-General of UNESCO on recommendation of the Global Geoparks Network (GGN) and of Member States. In addition the Council has 4 members without the right to vote. These are the Director-General of UNESCO, the President of the GGN, the Secretary-General of the IUGS and the Director-General of the IUCN or their representatives.
The Council meets once a year during a regional or international conference on UNESCO Global Geoparks. The first session of the Council was held in the framework of the 7th International Conference on UNESCO Global Geoparks, in the English Riviera Global Geopark on 24 and 25 September 2016. The second session of the Council took place on 16-17 September 2017 in Zhijindong Cave UNESCO Global Geopark, Guizhou province, China.