The UNESCO Global Geoparks are natural areas of particular geo-mining interest to which UNESCO assigns recognition, placing them in a special international network. The European reference point of the UNESCO network is the “European Geoparks network” with which UNESCO coordinates and is in constant contact.
The official recognition of the Programme in 2015 formalized a relationship between UNESCO and Geoparks that had already begun in 2001. Since then, Geoparks – through the activities and initiatives of the Global Geoparks Network (GGN) and of the European Geoparks Network (EGN) – have become an increasingly important tool for UNESCO to involve Member States and their communities in the promotion and enhancement of Earth Sciences and geological heritage.
The UNESCO Global Geoparks are individual geographical areas, delimited by a continuous border where sites and landscapes of international geological importance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development. The Programme works to increase knowledge and awareness of the role and value of geodiversity and to promote the best practices of conservation, education, dissemination and tourist use of the geological heritage. This relates their geological heritage to all the other aspects of the natural and cultural heritage of the area, to improve awareness and understanding of the key problems of society, such as the use of the resources of our land in a sustainable way, the mitigation of the effects of climate change and the reduction of natural disaster-related risks.
With increasing awareness, the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network contributes to the sense of pride of the local population and strengthens their identification with the territory.
The UNESCO Global Geoparks Network is established through a bottom-up process involving all local and regional actors and competent authorities.
This process requires commitment from local communities, a strong long-term partnership, political support, as well as the development of a global strategy capable of meeting the objectives of the communities, combining them with the protection of the area’s geological heritage.