The Global Geoparks idea is being adopted by increasing numbers of Member States. The Geoparks are becoming very popular due to their combination of conservation, sustainable development and community involvement. UNESCO started to be active in this area in 1999 when Geoparks were proposed as a UNESCO programme (document 156 EX/11 Rev.). However, in 2001, at the 161st session of UNESCO’s Executive Board, the majority of Delegates decided ‘not to pursue the development of a UNESCO geoparks programme, but instead to support ad hoc efforts within individual Member States as appropriate’.
Thus, today UNESCO gives its ad hoc support to national Geopark initiatives which are coordinated through a Global Network of National Geoparks (Global Geoparks Network [GGN]) where national geological heritage initiatives benefit fully from their membership of a global network of exchange and cooperation. The First International Geoparks Conference took place in Beijing, P.R. China, in 2004. In 2012, the GGN has 90 members in 26 countries.