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.
A UNESCO Global Geopark uses its geological heritage, in connection with all other aspects of the area’s natural and cultural heritage, to enhance awareness and understanding of key issues facing society, such as using our earth’s resources sustainably, mitigating the effects of climate change and reducing natural disasters-related risks. By raising awareness of the importance of the area’s geological heritage in history and society today, UNESCO Global Geoparks give local people a sense of pride in their region and strengthen their identification with the area.
The creation of innovative local enterprises, new jobs and high quality training courses is stimulated as new sources of revenue are generated through geotourism, while the geological resources of the area are protected.
It is not a legal protection status nor restricts economic (sustainable) activities.
The top 10 focus areas in which Geoparks are involved are:
- Natural resources
- Geological hazards
- Climate change
- Sustainable development
- Local and indigenous knowledge
Moreover, Geoparks are committed and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals.
Geoparks and UNESCO have established close cooperative relations since 2001. This cooperation has been developed with great success through numerous expert meetings and missions.
Since November 2015, Global UNESCO Geoparks of belong to the “International Geoscience and Geoparks Programme” (IGGP) of UNESCO. This Programme facilitates international cooperation between regions in the field of sustainable development related to the Earth Sciences heritage.
Through IGGP, candidate geographical areas present their candidacy to UNESCO, as the only United Nations Organization with a mandate in Earth Sciences, to be designated as “UNESCO Global Geoparks”.