07.04.2017 - UNESCO Venice Office

Strengthening regional cooperation through first-ever meeting of UNESCO Global Geoparks in South-East Europe

UNESCO Global Geoparks - Germany

Under the auspices of the UNESCO Global Geoparks programme, the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe and the Idrija Global Geopark are jointly organizing the first-ever workshop of UNESCO Global Geoparks in South-East Europe. The event scheduled on 19-21 April 2017 in Idrija, Slovenia, is organized with the support of the Slovenian National Commission for UNESCO and will allow participants to share experiences and to present best practices and lessons learnt of UNESCO Global Geoparks in the region.

UNESCO Global Geoparks are geological heritage areas internationally recognized for implementing sustainable development strategies where the local population cooperates to protect the natural surroundings and care for rural development. They include geological heritage sites of international importance, having significant aesthetic value and educational importance. UNESCO Global Geoparks also encompass other natural, cultural and intangible heritage values including archaeological, historical, technical and other cultural assets.

Through the UNESCO Global Geoparks network, areas of global value and rich geodiversity gain worldwide recognition and benefit from the exchange of knowledge for the protection and promotion of geological heritage. In locations where UNESCO Global Geoparks have been set up, there are excellent examples of best practices which are reflected in the preservation of priceless geological and other natural heritage and economic development areas.

There are many areas of the world without an established UNESCO Global Geopark or areas where only a small number has been established. This is the case of South-East Europe (SEE), Africa, North and South America, where awareness of the importance of preserving and promoting geological heritage is often found to be lacking.

As a result, UNESCO is working hard to promote and further develop the UNESCO Global Geoparks concept in these areas and the upcoming SEE regional workshop is aimed at precisely that. It intends to serve as a forum for sharing experiences, presenting best practices/lessons learnt and outlining a common strategy for implementing the proposed International Geoscience and Geoparks Programme (IGGP) in SEE. It also anticipates helping to strengthen the concept of UNESCO Global Geoparks Network and, as far as SEE is concerned, the European Geoparks Network (EGN) and its joint activities in this region.

The workshop will have the form of an open platform in which pre-determined issues will be debated. Some of these topics for discussion include the contribution of Geoparks to local community development; what are the various designations of UNESCO (World Heritage sites, Biosphere Reserves, UNESCO Global Geoparks) and possible strategies to bring those designations to work better together, in particular when they overlap, the promotion of new Global Geoparks designations, and the development and launching of a platform for sharing/exchange of best practices and lessons learnt.

The workshop will bring together representatives from ministries, research institutions, local development agencies and national/natural park authorities from countries of South-East Europe (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Montenegro, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey). Selected participants have identified a strong interest in sharing and discussing best practices developed by UNESCO Global Geoparks in South-East Europe, concerning mainly the preservation and promotion of their geological and related natural /cultural heritage, in a sustainable regional development perspective, or; establishing new UNESCO Global Geoparks in their territory.

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