제 16 호 Valuable Asset for Out Future: UNESCO Global Geoparks
Valuable Asset for Out Future:
UNESCO Global Geoparks
By Da-Hwee Kim, Editor-in-chief
What do you think of when you think of UNESCO? Yes, many people will think of World Heritage Sites first. However, among those designated by UNESCO, there are some that are as important as World Heritage Sites. It is Global Geoparks. In this article, I would like to introduce a variety of information about Global Geoparks, a concept that is unfamiliar to many people. Shall we begin?
What are UNESCO Global Geoparks?
A UNESCO Global Geopark is a single, unified geographical area where attractions and landscapes of global geological value are managed with the concepts of protection, education, and sustainable development.
UNESCO's Geopark work first began in 2001. In 2004, 17 geoparks in Europe and 8 geoparks in China came together at UNESCO headquarters in Paris to form the Global Geoparks Network (GGN) (link is external). It is a global network of exchange and cooperation.
On 17 November 2015, UNESCO's 195 Member States ratified the creation of a new name, UNESCO Global Geoparks, at the 38th UNESCO General Assembly. This represents the recognition of the importance of holistic management of outstanding geological sites and landscapes.
Approach for the UGGp
UNESCO Global Geoparks actively encourage local communities and residents to participate in geoparks as stakeholders. Bottom-up approaches that combine conservation and sustainable development, particularly involving local communities (eg landowners, community groups, tourism providers, indigenous and local groups), are becoming increasingly popular. Its main goal is to meet the social and economic needs of local residents through partnerships with local communities, while at the same time protecting the natural landscape in which they live and preserving their cultural identity.
How many Global Geoparks are there?
There are currently 177 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 46 countries. China is the country that has the largest number of Global Geoparks. One interesting fact is that there are not yet UGGps in the USA. In South Korea, four sites (Jeju Island, Cheongsong, Mudeungsan Area, and Hantan River) have been certified as UNESCO Global Geoparks.
How to become a geopark
Actually, any country can apply for a UNESCO Global Geopark. However, there are four fundamental features to a UNESCO Global Geopark: Geological heritage of international value, management, visibility, and networking. These features are an absolute prerequisite for an area to become a UNESCO Global Geopark.
Before making an official application, UNESCO Global Geopark aspirants must submit a letter of intent through official channels as specified in the UNESCO Global Geoparks Act and Operational Guidelines. UNESCO also provides a checklist to guide them through preparing the application file, so the aspirants should make sure that they meet the criteria before applying.
As with all procedures, this designation process is quite complex. It is hard to list them all here, but here is a quick summary: Preparation before sending a candidature -> Sending the application -> Evaluation mission -> Decision process
Once a UGGp, always a UGGp?
Do you think that once designated as UGGp, that status will last forever? If you thought so, you are mistaken. After four years of receiving this designation, UNESCO Global Geoparks undergo a thorough review of the function and quality of each UNESCO Global Geopark during the recertification process. As part of the revalidation process, UNESCO Global Geoparks under review are required to prepare progress reports, and two evaluators will be on-site to revalidate the quality of UNESCO Global Geoparks.
If a UNESCO Global Geopark continues to meet the criteria according to the site assessment report, the site will remain a UNESCO Global Geopark for an additional four years (the so-called "Green Card"). If the district no longer meets the criteria, the governing body is notified to take appropriate action within two years (a so-called “yellow card”). If a UNESCO Global Geopark does not meet the criteria within two years of receiving its 'yellow card', it will, unfortunately, lose its status as a UNESCO Global Geopark (so-called 'red card').
Significance of UGGp
The MDGs (The Millennium Development Goals) had been established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000. In 2015, its implementation target deadline had expired. As a result, governments needed to continue working towards the goal and address new challenges. Therefore, at the 70th UN General Assembly in 2015, the agenda was decided to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. These are the 17 common goals of humankind to realize the ideology of sustainable development. In the SDGs, the UN sets out 17 goals and 169 directions for humanity to move forward in the five areas of human, earth, prosperity, peace, and partnership with the slogan of 'Leave no one behind'.
The environment plays a huge role here, and UNESCO Global Geoparks have great significance in this regard. This is because they promote respect for the environment and the integrity of the landscape while promoting sustainable use and necessity.
After reading the article, I hope you know a little bit about UGGp. If you want to know more, it would be nice to visit the official website: (https://en.unesco.org/global-geoparks).