The Global Network of National Geoparks, commonly referred to as Global Geoparks Network (GGN), is an international, non-governmental, non-profit and voluntary network, which provides a platform of cooperation among Geoparks, brings together government agencies, non-governmental organizations, scientists, and communities from all countries around the world in a unique worldwide partnership and operates according to UNESCO regulations.
The GGN mission is to influence, encourage and assist local societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of abiotic and biotic nature, to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and sustainable and to support economic and cultural development of local communities through the valorisation of their unique heritage and identity. It seeks to enhance the value of such sites while at the same time creating employment and promoting regional and local economic development.
Under the umbrella of UNESCO and through cooperation with the global network partners, important geological sites gain worldwide recognition and benefit from an exchange of knowledge, expertise, experience and staff between other Geoparks. This international partnership developed by UNESCO, allows members to profit from a worldwide exchange of experience among members, as compared to being a local isolated initiative.
The network comprises all regions of the world and brings together groups that share common values, interests, or backgrounds following a specific concept and management process. It further serves to develop models of best practice and set quality- standards for territories that integrate the preservation of geological heritage in a strategy for regional sustainable economic development.
The Global Network of National Geoparks operates in close synergy with UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) World Network of Biosphere Reserves, national and international undertakings and non-governmental organizations active in geological heritage conservation.
For Geoparks in Europe, UNESCO has established a privileged partnership with the European Geoparks Network (EGN). As a result the EGN acts as the regional division of GGN in Europe. UNESCO recommends the creation of similar regional Networks, reflecting local conditions, elsewhere in the world.
Networking and collaboration among Geoparks is an important component of the Global Network of National Geoparks. UNESCO encourages any form of cooperation especially in the fields of education, management, tourism, sustainable development, regional planning among Network members.
The foundation of the Unesco Network of Geoparks
According to national and international initiatives, like the “International Declaration of the Rights of the Memories of the Earth” (Digne, France 1991), the IGCP, IUGS, ProGeo, Malvern Group, UNESCO’s Division of Earth Sciences and the Council of Europe, an international group of experts on Geoparks recommended the establishment of a “Global Network of National Geoparks seeking UNESCO’s assistance” in order to promote the three goals of conserving a healthy environment, educating in Earth Sciences at large, and fostering sustainable economical local development.
On Friday 13 February 2004 a meeting on geoparks was held in UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. In the meeting participated members of the Scientific Board of the IGCP, representatives of the International Geographical Union (IGU) and the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), and international experts on geological heritage conservation and promotion. The following items have been discussed and decided: a. Presentation and establishment of the “Operational Guidelines for National Geoparks seeking UNESCO’s assistance” (Global Geoparks Network), b. The establishment of a Global Network of Geoparks, c. The foundation of a Coordination Office for the Global UNESCO Network of Geoparks at the Ministry of Land and Resources in Beijing China.
New geoparks are invited to send their application respecting guidelines and criteria upon to UNESCO’s Division of Earth Sciences, that will forward it to the International Advisory Group.
If there is a Geopark network on a national level existing, the applicant geopark has to be first member of this network.
For Europe the already established cooperation agreement between UNESCO’s Division of Earth Sciences and the European Geoparks Network, shall serve as the mechanism for integration national Geoparks through the label of European Geoparks into the global UNESCO Network.
The Division of Earth Sciences is encouraged to confirm or initiate agreements at a regional (continental) level using the cooperation agreement with the EGN as an example.
During a closed meeting of the International Advisory Group of Experts the evaluation of the existing geoparks took place. It was decided to include 17 European Geoparks and 8 Chinese Geoparks in the Global UNESCO Network of Geoparks.
As a result the “First International Conference on Geoparks” was held in Beijing, China from 27 to 29 June 2004, in order to promote the establishment of a worldwide network of national Geoparks with the contributions from the international governmental and non-governmental community.
In October 2004 during the 5th European Geoparks Meeting held in Petralia Sottana, Madonie Geopark, a new agreement between the Division of Earth Sciences of UNESCO and the European Geoparks Network was officially signed.
According to this agreement: ”A European territory wishing to become a member of the Global Geoparks Network must submit a full application dossier to the European Geoparks Network, which acts as the integration organisation into the Global Geoparks Network for the European continent.
The Division of Earth Sciences of UNESCO recognises that the European Geoparks Network is the reference to follow for the creation of other continental networks of Geoparks.”
Members of the Global Network of Geoparks (September 2014)
111 Geoparks are currently members of the Global Geoparks Network assisted by UNESCO.
- Lushan Geopark – P.R. China (2004)
- Geopark Wudalianchi – P.R. China (2004)
- Songshan Geopark – P.R. China (2004)
- Yuntaishan Geopark – P.R. China (2004)
- Danxiashan Geopark – P.R. China (2004)
- Stone Forest Geopark – Shilin Geopark – P.R. China (2004)
- Zhangjiajie Sandstone Peak Forest Geopark – P.R. China (2004)
- Huangshan Geopark – P.R. China (2004)
- Reserve Géologique de Haute Provence – France (2004)
- Lesvos island – Greece (2004,2012)
- Vulkaneifel European Geopark – Germany (2004)
- Maestrazgo Cultural Park – Spain (2004)
- Psiloritis Natural Park – Greece (2004)
- Nature park Terra Vita European Geopark – Germany (2004)
- Copper Coast – Ireland (2004)
- Marble Arch Caves European Geopark – N. Ireland & Republic of Ireland (2004,2008)
- Madonie Natural Park – Italy (2004)
- Rocca Di Cerere Geopark – Italy (2004)
- Nature Park Eisenwurzen – Austria (2004)
- European Geopark Bergstrasse–Odenwald – Germany (2004)
- North Pennines AONB – England UK (2004)
- Park Naturel Régional du Luberon – France (2005)
- North West Highlands – Scotland UK (2005)
- Geopark Swabian Albs – Germany (2005)
- Geopark Harz Braunschweiger Land Ostfalen – Germany (2005)
- Xingwen National Geopark – P.R. China (2005)
- Hexigten National Geopark – P.R. China (2005)
- Yandangshan National Geopark – P.R. China (2005)
- Taining National Geopark – P.R. China (2005)
- Hateg Country Dinosaur Geopark – Rumania (2005)
- Parco del Beigua – Italy (2005)
- Fforest Fawr Geopark – Wales UK (2005)
- Bohemian Paradise Geopark – Czech Republic (2005)
- Subeticas Geopark – Spain (2006)
- Sobrarbe Geopark – Spain (2006)
- Cabo de Gata – Spain (2006)
- Naturtejo Geopark – Portugal (2006)
- Gea-Norvegica – Norway (2006)
- Araripe Geopark – Brazil (2006)
- Fangshan Geopark – Hebei Province, P.R. China (2006)
- Leiqiong Geopark – Heinan Province, P.R. China (2006)
- Funiushan Geopark – Henan Province, P.R. China (2006)
- Wangwushan-Daimeishan Geopark – Henan Province, P.R. China (2006)
- Jingpohu Geopark – Heilongjiang Province, P.R. China (2006)
- Taishan Geopark – Shandong Province, P.R. China (2006)
- Sardenia Geominerario Park – Italy (2007)
- Papuk Geopark – Croatia (2007)
- Langkawi Geopark – Malaysia (2007)
- English Riviera Geopark – England UK (2007)
- Longhushan Geopark – P.R. China (2007)
- Zizong Geopark – P.R.China (2008)
- Adamello Brenda Geopark – Italy (2008)
- Geo Mon – Wales UK (2009)
- Arouca – Portugal (2009)
- Qinling Geopark – Shaanxi Province, China (2009)
- Alxa Geopark – Inner Mongolia, China (2009)
- Itoigawa Geopark – Japan (2009)
- Toya Caldera and Usu Volcano Geopark - Japan (2009)
- Unzen Volcanic Area Geopark – Japan (2009)
- Shetland Geopark - UK (2009)
- Chelmos-Vouraikos Geopark - Greece (2009)
- Novohrad-Nograd Geopark – Hungary and Slovakia (2010)
- Magma Geopark -Norway (2010)
- Basque Coast Geopark, Pais Vasco – Spain (2010)
- Parco Nazionale del Cilento e Vallo di Diano, Campania – Italy (2010)
- Rokua Geopark – Finland (2010)
- Tuscan Mining Park, Toscana – Italy (2010)
- Vikos – Aoos Geopark – Greece (2010)
- Stone hammer Geopark – Canada (2010)
- Leye-Fengshan Geopark – P.R. China (2010)
- Ningde Geopark – P.R. China (2010)
- San’in Κaigan Geopark – Japan (2010)
- Jeju island Geopark Κorea (2010)
- Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark – Vietnam (2010)
- 75. Muskau Arch Geopark – Germany/Poland (2011)
- Sierra Norte de Sevilla Natural Park, Andalucia – Spain (2011)
- Burren and Cliffs of Moher- Republic of Ireland (2011)
- Katla – Iceland (2011)
- Bauges – France (2011)
- Apuan Alps – Italy (2011)
- 81. Villuercaas-Ibores-Jara – Spain (2011)
- 82. Muroto – Japan (2011)
- Hong Kong – China (2011)
- Tianzhushan - China (2011)
- Carnic Alps Geopark – Austria (2012)
- Chablais Geopark – France (2012)
- Bakony-Balaton Geopark – Hungary (2012)
- Batur Geopark – Indonesia (2012)
- Central Catalonia Geopark – Spain (2012)
- Sanqingshan – China (2012)
- Azores – Portugal (2013)
- Karavanke/Karawanken – Slovenia & Austria (2013)
- Idrija Geopark – Slovenia (2013)
- Oki islands Geopark – Japan (2013)
- Grutas del Palacio – Uruguay (2013)
- Yanqing Geopark – P.R. China(2013)
- Shennongia Geopark – P.R. China (2013)
- Hondsrug Geopark – Netherlands (2013)
- Sesia – Val Grande Geopark – Italy (2013)
- Kula Geopark – Turkey (2013)
- Molina and Alto Tajo Global Geopark (Spain)
- Ore of the Alps Global Geopark (Austria)
- Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark (Canada)
- Mount Kunlun Global Geopark (China)
- Dali Mount Cangshan Global Geopark (China)
- Odsherred Global Geopark (Denmark)
- Monts d’Ardeche Global Geopark (France)
- Aso Global Geopark (Japan)
- M’Goun Global Geopark (Morocco)
- Terras de Cabaleiros Global Geopark (Portugal)
- El Hierro Global Geopark (Spain, Canary Islands Autonomous Region)
International Conferences on Geoparks
The International Conference on Geoparks is held every two years.
1st International Conference on Geoparks
organized by the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR), P.R.China and UNESCO and the in Beijing,
27-29 June 2004
Reflecting the increased worldwide interest in collaboration in the fields of protection and promotion of geological heritage and sustainable local development through the creation, development and promotion of geoparks, the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR), P.R.China , and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) jointly held the First International Conference on Geoparks in Beijing from June 27, 2004 to July 7, 2004.
The overall goal of this conference was to demonstrate that important geological or geo-morphological landscapes, included in Geoparks, might serve as excellent tools for educating the general public in geo-environmental matters and developing geotourism. Gaining a healthy, sustainable economic development on a local and regional scale needs as a prerequisite also a better understanding and management of our geo-heritage; to facilitate this, an increased dissemination of the geo-scientific knowledge has to be foreseen in order to teach and remind the people to cherish humanity’s only living place (the earth).
In connection with the conference, efficient and informative public relations material was developed for each region, in order to trigger the interest in Earth sciences and promote the understanding that wise management of our Planet needs to be based upon education on science, including environmental sciences, Earth sciences and geoheritage. Visiting national geoparks should facilitate the process of learning and treatment of our vulnerable nature in a conscious manner.
On June 27, under the theme of protection and sustainable development of geoheritage, the First International Conference on Geoparks was ceremoniously opened in Beijing, China. Nearly 1000 representatives from 42 countries and regions attended the conference. Zeng Peiyan, Commissioner of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the CPC and Vice Prime Minister of State Council, offered his congratulations in a letter. Mr. Sun Wensheng, Minister of MLR and Honorary Chairman of Organization Committee of the First International Conference on Geoparks, Ms. Shou Jiahua, Vice Minister of MLR and Chairman of the Conference Organization Committee, Mr. Walter Erdelen, Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences of UNESCO and Mr. W. Eder, Director of the Division of Earth Sciences of UNESCO, among other distinguished guests, also appeared at the opening ceremony.
The European Geopark Network with its integration in the Global Geoparks Network of UNESCO is recognized henceforth by the international community as an organization of great contribution on natural heritage and sustainable development issues. In a special festive ceremony that was organized in the frames of the 1st International Conference on Geoparks, the Under-secretary of UNESCO Dr. W. Erdelen and the Minister of Earth and Natural Resources of China Sun Wengsheng, delivered in the representatives of the 25 Geoparks a special plaque for their integration in the Global Geoparks Network (17 from Europe and 8 from China).
1st International Exhibition on Geoparks
Along with the Conference on Geoparks, a great exhibition was organized in which participated with kiosks the 8 Chinese Geoparks and a number of the members of the European Geoparks Network, the 44 National Geological Parks of China as well as more geological parks from various countries. The exhibition inaugurated by the Vice Minister of Natural Resources of China Mrs Shou Jiahua who visited the kiosks of EGN with the General Secretary of Natural Sciences of UNESCO, Dr.W. Erdelen, and were informed for the priceless value of geological heritage and for Networks efforts for conservation and promotion.
2nd International Conference on Geoparks
organized by the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland and the Marble Arch Caves Geopark in Belfast,
The 2nd Global Geoparks Conference was held in Belfast in September 2006. The conference was successful. 320 participants attended the Geoparks 2006 Conference coming from 40 countries and 6 continents. The meeting provided delegates with the opportunity to discuss and assimilate new ideas which they could use to develop their own territories. However, aspirations are not fulfilled at conferences. It is essential that we consider the origins of our Europaen Geoparks Network in order to define how we progress in the future.
The origin of European Geoparks Network began in 1998. Discussions were initiated between the Reserve Geologique de Haute Provence, Gerolstein and Vulkaneifel G. Martini to exrlore the potential for collaboration in an innovative project designed to create a European Geoparks Network. The Greek Lesvos Petrified Forest and the Spanish Cultural Park of Maestrazgo also participated in this process. This new and exciting concept, namely the creation of a European Geoparks Network, was based on the view that the “in situ memory of landscape which every inhabitant of a region has” can be used to secure the future through the development of “geo and economic / tourism”. The success of the project is a tribute to the creativity, patience, strength and enthusiasm of members within a growing network to work together with a common aim. This is crearly reflected by the continued growth of the EGN and the EGN and the success of the Belfast conference.
The conference demonstrated the need for communication between politicians, tourist providers, economic consultants and geoscientists. It was a pleasure to discuss ideas and share practical experiences with colleagues from participating geoparks and to consider the diverse views expressed on the future development of the Geopark concept raised in oral presentation and in workshop discussions. Many of us benefited by discussing, in a wider forum, and ideas concerning geological heritage arising from the managment strategies of Geoparks and of existing World Heritage Sites, and from current and proposed collaborations between Geoparks.It became clear from the meeting that we still have a long way to go in progressing our common future on planet Earth under the aegis of “geosciences and landscape for the future of human society” to “meet the needs of future generations” both for a stable society and for sustainable economic development.
It was a privilege in the “Geoparks Celebration” in Belfast. Landscape and geosciences are not boring, dirty and dead! This was shownduring the celebration in which the UNESCO certificate was presented to new members of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network. The meetings and discussions between diverse nations who have already worked together, and new members will lead to future progress and to the creation of new projects. They are a cause for celebration.
The partners within the Network form links within a growing chain in which members contribute to the strength and development of the Geopark concept and, simultaneously, serve the needs of future generations within different area of the world. Each partner is an equally important link within the chain. Let us pull together so that we all benefit through our creativity, progress collaborative efforts and above all in our support for each other.
3rd International Conference on Geoparks
organized by TerraVita Geopark in Osnabruck, Germany,
The conference in 2008 in Osnabrueck was embedded in the “International Year of Planet Earth 2008″ (IYPE), proclaimed by the United Nations. For this initiative the conference in Osnabrueck can play a major role in communicating the global objectives.
The key themes of the International Year have been decided by a panel of world experts and assembled by the Year’s Science Programme Committee. A selection of these themes, such as “Earth and Health”, “Resousces issues – towards sustainable use”, and “Soil – Earth’s living skin”, have been explored in workshops and sessions during the Osnabrueck conference, while the main focus of the Year, “Outreach – brinking Earth sciences to everyone”, was stressing our main conference theme “Communication”.
By working in partnership with the largest environmental foundation, The Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU) and its Centre for Environmental Communication in conjuction with the two Universities of Osnabrueck this conference had a solid financial basis and was guaranteed the broad scientific background for its main theme “Communicating Earth Heritage”.
The experienced Conference and Convention Bureau of the City Marketing 0rganisation in Osnabrueck ensured the professional and efficient organisation of the conference, including reservations, booking etc.
4th International UNESCO Conference on Geoparks
organized by the Langkawi Geopark, Malaysia,
The Fourth International Conference on Geoparks was held in Langkawi Geopark (Malaysia) in April 2010 and was attended by 427 people from 27 countries, with the biggest contingent from China.
5th International UNESCO Conference on Geoparks
organized by the Unzen Geopark, Japan,
The Fifth Global Geopark Conference will be held in Unzen Geopark, in Japan, in 2012.