Mark it in your calendar. From now on, 6 October will be International Geodiversity Day. This annual celebration of geodiversity was approved on 22 November by 193 member states attending UNESCO’s biennial General Conference in Paris.
The approval followed a request from the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) and 108 other scientific organisations for the proclamation of an International Geodiversity Day to raise awareness of the many benefits geodiversity provides for people, society, and the environment.
Geodiversity is the natural portion of the planet that is not alive both at the surface and in the interior. It includes the Earth's minerals, rocks, fossils, soils, sediments, landforms and topography, as well as hydrological features such as rivers and lakes and the processes that make and modify these features. It is the source of the materials that build towns and cities and serves as the support system for all agricultural systems by providing soil and water. Geodiversity provides resources for energy generation, including the materials used to manufacture wind turbines and solar panels. Through its diverse landscapes, colours and forms, geodiversity inspires artists and fascinates tourists.
Despite this, most people are unaware of the extent to which we depend on geodiversity. It is, therefore, crucial to promote a better understanding of the Earth’s dynamic processes to ensure that citizens make informed policy choices for a more sustainable society, an essential element in the implementation of the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
In that sense, International Geodiversity Day will offer an opportunity to showcase how an education in geological sciences can provide humanity with sustainable solutions to pressing challenges such as responsible resource extraction, disaster risk reduction, mitigation of climate change and biodiversity loss. It will also raise awareness of the critical linkages between geodiversity and all life forms.
International days are annual observances instigated by the United Nations to generate awareness and action on issues of concern, or to celebrate human achievement.
UNESCO and IUGS sponsor the UNESCO International Geoscience and Geoparks Programme (IGGP), which will be responsible for administering International Diversity Day.
As the only United Nations body with a mandate to support research and capacity-building in geology and geophysics, UNESCO will use International Geodiversity Day to promote the goals of The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as the creation of new UNESCO Global Geoparks in Africa, the Arab region and Latin America, in particular.