The 3rd International Geoparks Conference of UNESCO was convoked officially in Osnabrück, Germany at 11:00am, June 21, 2008, of which theme was "communication of geoheritage". Approximately 500 representatives from more than 60 countries across five continents were present at this conference.
1st Global Geoparks Fair
Prior to official start, the 1st Global Geoparks Fair took place at 11:00am, June 21, lasting to 18:00, June 22. Opening the event was Dr. Hans-Gert Pöttering, President of the European Parliament and Walter Hirche, President of German UNESCO Commission. The Fair was held in the Historic Market Place where white temporary tents were used as exhibition booths. All geoparks everywhere displayed the elaborate wall pictures, tourist albums and promotion pictorials to show their own merits. Peculiar geological landscapes and abundant tourism resources attracted lots of local residents and tourists.
Public Geopark Party and Inaugural Evening Reception
The host held a “public geopark party” from 19:00 to 22:00, June 21, at which the ‘Hidden Fermanagh’ band from Enniskillen, Northern Ireland performed the Irish folk music.
All participants, altogether around 500 persons from over 60 countries across five continents, shifted to the main conference hall ---- Stadhalle, Convention Hall ---- after the 1st Global Geoparks Fair was ended in the evening of June 22 when the host held an inaugural evening reception in the castle of University of Osnabrück. The mayor of Osnabrück, Boris Pistorius, delivered an address of welcome.
Opening of the 3rd International Geoparks Conference of UNESCO
Before official opening of this conference, Prof. Zhang Jianping from China University of Geosciences (Beijing), on behalf of the director-general of Department of Geological Environment of Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR), P.R.C., Jiang Jianjun, called upon the president of Organizing Committee of this conference, Dr. Escher, the official of Global Geoparks Section, Dr. M. Patzak, the valuators of global geoparks including N. Zouros from Greece, P. McKeever from UK, I. Komoo from Malaysia, the former valuators of global geoparks including Eder from Germany, Jannochek from Austria and Susan Turner from Australia and other people respectively; meanwhile, he submitted the congratulatory letter written by Director-general Jiang Jianjun and such materials as the Issue I and II 2008 of Global Geoparks Newsletter and the introductions to 20 global geoparks in China.
This conference was inaugurated duly at 10:00am, June 23. Firstly, the president of TERRA.vita Global Geopark, L. M. Hugo, addressed it to give attendant representatives everywhere a warm welcome. Upon his proposal, all representatives stood in silence for one minute to mourn lives claimed in the massive earthquake in Wenchuan County, Sichuan, China on behalf of members of GGN (Global Geoparks Network). Afterwards, Dr. M. Patzak from Global Geoparks Section of UNESCO, C. Ehrenbergerg, W. Wamhoff, A. Brambati, I. Komoo and N. Zouros delivered their addresses on behalf of UNESCO, Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (German Environment Fund), International Union of Geological Sciences, Asian-Pacific Geoparks Network and European Geoparks Network respectively. At last, the chief editor of Germany National Geography, K. Liedtke, the executive director of International Year of Plant Earth, Dr. E. de Mulder and other representatives made thematic speeches.
The academic session of this conference was initiated duly at 1:45pm, June 23. All attendant experts and scholars expounded their own views on the conference objective, i.e. “creation of appropriate approaches for a boost in people’s knowledge of geoheritage”. The participants in this academic session included governmental officials from countries, management and staff from geoparks, experts and graduates from universities and research institutes and practitioners in such fields as tourism, education and cultural heritage. This academic session was held in four conference halls, focused on the following four subjects:
How best to communicate the fascination of these topics to a wider public?
How to integrate them in tourism offers?
Can they enhance regional development?
What is the task of the Global Geoparks in this process?