Les géoparcs mondiaux UNESCO sont des espaces géographiques unifiés, où les sites et paysages de portée géologique internationale sont gérés selon un concept global de protection, d’éducation et de développement durable. 

Purposes of geoparks

Ten top topics of the UNESCO Global Geopark are listed in an official publication as natural resources, geological hazards, climate change, education, science, culture, women, sustainable development, local and indigenous knowledge, and geoconservation. More precisely, it is stated that:

A UNESCO Global Geopark uses its geological heritage, in connection with all other aspects of the area’s natural and cultural heritage, to enhance awareness and understanding of key issues facing society, such as using our Earth’s resources sustainably, mitigating the effects of climate change and reducing the impact of natural disasters. By raising awareness of the importance of the area’s geological heritage in history and society today, UNESCO Global Geoparks give local people a sense of pride in their region and strengthen their identification with the area. The creation of innovative local enterprises, new jobs and high quality training courses is stimulated as new sources of revenue are generated through geotourism, while the geological resources of the area are protected.  (UNESCO, 2016)

Similarly to the UNESCO’s perspective, a Global Geopark for GGN is focused to raise awareness of geoscience and to support local society:

Global Geoparks are tools to conserve and enhance the value of areas of geological significance in Earth history, including landscapes and geological formations, which are key witnesses to the evolution of our planet and determinants for our future and to promote sustainable development for example through geo-tourism and education. Global Geoparks are living, working landscapes where science and local communities engage in a mutually beneficial and safe way. Global Geoparks encourage awareness of the story of the planet as read in the rocks and landscape. Global Geoparks promote the links between geological heritage and all other aspects of the area’s natural and cultural heritage, clearly demonstrating that geodiversity is the foundation of all ecosystems and the basis of human interaction with the landscape. (GGN Statutes, 2014)

Earlies documents tends to divide the missions of geoparks into three aspects, namely conservation, education (science) and geotourism, as is shown on the website of APGN or the original EGN charter. Yet, details of the three aspects varies in the two networks. The relatively more recent APGN provides a more concrete description on implications of conservation goal and more specific educational objective (“to communicate geoscientific knowledge and environmental concepts to the public”):  

CONSERVATION: A GEOPARK seeks to conserve significant geological features, and explore and demonstrate methods for excellence in conservation. The management authority of each GEOPARK ensures adequate protection measures in consultation with collaborating universities, geological surveys or relevant statutory bodies in accordance with local traditions and legislative obligations. EDUCATION: A GEOPARK organizes activities and provides logistic support to communicate geoscientific knowledge and environmental concepts to the public. […] A GEOPARK also fosters scientific research and cooperation with universities and research institutes, stimulating the dialogue between the geosciences and local populations. GEOTOURISM: A GEOPARK stimulates economic activity and sustainable development through geotourism. By attracting increasing numbers of visitors, a GEOPARK stimulates local socio-economic development through the promotion of a quality label linked with the local natural heritage. It encourages the creation of local enterprises and cottage industries involved in geotourism and geoproducts. (APGN, website accessed in May 2016)

As for European Geoparks, stress seems to be put on economic development and cultural revitalization of the territory, while the two other goals are relatively underdeveloped. 

A European Geopark has an active role in the economic development of its territory through enhancement of a general image linked to the geological heritage and the development of Geotourism. A European Geopark has direct impact on the territory by influencing its inhabitants’ living conditions and environment. The objective is to enable the inhabitants to re-appropriate the values of the territory’s heritage and actively participate in the territory’s cultural revitalization as a whole. A European Geopark develops, experiments and enhances methods for preserving the geological heritage. A European Geopark has also to support education on the environment, training and development of scientific research in the various disciplines of the Earth Sciences, enhancement of the natural environment and sustainable development policies. (EGN Charter, 2000)

Take a look on Global Geoparks' contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (UNESCO) :


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