Fundamental Features of a UNESCO Global Geopark
There are four fundamental features to a UNESCO Global Geopark. These features are an absolute prerequisite for an area to become a UNESCO Global Geopark. The exact criteria for an area to become a UNESCO Global Geopark are set out in the Operational Guidelines for UNESCO Global Geoparks (pdf).
The four features that are fundamental to a UNESCO Global Geopark are:
- Geological heritage of international value
In order to become a UNESCO Global Geopark, the area must have geological heritage of international value. This is assessed by scientific professionals, as part of the “UNESCO Global Geopark Evaluation Team”. Based on the international peer-reviewed, published research conducted on the geological sites within the area, the scientific professionals make a globally comparative assessment to determine whether the geological sites constitute international value.
UNESCO Global Geoparks are managed by a body having legal existence recognized under national legislation. This management body should be appropriately equipped to address the entire area and should include all relevant local and regional actors and authorities. UNESCO Global Geoparks require a management plan, agreed upon by all the partners, that provides for the social and economic needs of the local populations, protects the landscape in which they live and conserves their cultural identity. This plan must be comprehensive, incorporating the governance, development, communication, protection, infrastructure, finances, and partnerships of the UNESCO Global Geopark.
UNESCO Global Geoparks promote sustainable local economic development mainly through geotourism. In order to stimulate the geotourism in the area, it is crucial that a UNESCO Global Geopark has visibility. Visitors as well as local people need to be able to find relevant information on the UNESCO Global Geopark. As such, UNESCO Global Geoparks need to provide information via a dedicated website, leaflets, and detailed map of the area that connects the area’s geological and other sites. A UNESCO Global Geopark should also have a corporate identity.
A UNESCO Global Geopark is not only about cooperation with the local people living in the UNESCO Global Geopark area, but also about cooperating with other UNESCO Global Geoparks through the Global Geoparks Network (GGN), and regional networks for UNESCO Global Geoparks, in order to learn from each other and, as a network, improve the quality of the label UNESCO Global Geopark. Working together with international partners is the main reason for UNESCO Global Geoparks to be a member of an international network such as the GGN. Membership of the GGN is obligatory for UNESCO Global Geoparks. By working together across borders, UNESCO Global Geoparks contribute to increasing understanding among different communities and as such help peace-building processes.