You are here: Home > News & Events > Latest News

Geoparks a new strategy: Geology for Development

Source: Published:Oct 10,2009

UNESCO’s support for national GEOPARKS responds to the strong need expressed by the geoscientific community in numerous countries around the world for an international framework of geoconservation to enhance the value of the heritage of the Earth.

This new strategy seeks to safeguard and sustainably manage landscapes and geological formations which are key witnesses to the history of life on Earth, thereby stimulating regional economic and cultural development.

What is a Geopark?

A Geopark is an area containing a number of nationally protected geological heritage sites of particular importance, rarity or aesthetic appeal. These Earth heritage sites are part of an integrated concept of protection, education and sustainable development. A Geopark achieves its goals through a three-pronged approach:

§ Education
§ Geotourism

Geoparks and UNESCO:

The Earth sciences programmes within UNESCO’s Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences are unique in the UN, as they pay particular attention to enhancing knowledge of the Earth System.

These programmes address interdisciplinary research and capacity building in the fi elds of geology and geophysics, including the sustainable management and development of the Earth’s environment and its mineral and energy resources. They also deal with global Earth observation, hazard mitigation and the safeguarding of geological heritage.

Consequently, UNESCO’s support for the GEOPARK initiative is a natural extension of its work since the GEOPARK approach promotes a truly interdisciplinary network of international cooperation for studing the Earth System while sustaining local communities. Pursuant to the decision of its Executive Board in June 2001 (161 EX/Decisions, 3.3.1), UNESCO has been invited 'to support ad hoc efforts with Member States as appropriate' in order to promote territories or natural parks having special geological features.

This innovative initiative introduces a unique international framework linking socio-economic development and the conservation of the natural environment and hence constitutes a new and vital approach to conservation issues.

The GEOPARKS NETWORK works in close synergy with UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) World Network of Biosphere Reserves and national and international undertakings and non-governmental organizations active in geological heritage conservation.