The first-ever visit and exchange programme for Chinese and Japanese Geopark delegates took place April 11-19 when Chinese delegates of the Chinese Geoparks Network visited their counterparts of the Japanese Geoparks Network in Japan. This is the beginning of a much-anticipated effort to build bridges between the UNESCO Global Geoparks of both nations. During this first exchange, the participants shared their experiences and learned from each other. They also identified common challenges that they will work on together.
“The core purpose of the initiative is to build a better and deeper understanding among Geopark managers between the two networks”, said Ka Ming Yeung, Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark manager.
Among those that participated were representatives from the following five Chinese UNESCO Global Geoparks (Arxan, Alxa Desert, Hexigten, Hong Kong and Taishan) and six Japanese UNESCO Global Geoparks (Itoigawa, Muroto, Oki Islands, San’in Kaigan and Unzen Volcanic Area). They met and devised this plan in September 2016 to create a transferable example of partnership between UNESCO Global Geoparks across the globe.
“Thanks to the dedicated effort of Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark two networks are now strongly connected”, Mahito Watanabe, Japan Geopark Committee.
Inspired by the strong bounds and transnational cooperation between the different members of the European Geopark Network, these Chinese and Japanese UNESCO Global Geoparks met during the last International Conference on UNESCO Global Geoparks last September in Torquay, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, to pave the way for a stronger Asia-Pacific Geopark Network.
In December 2016, this enthusiastic group created an official framework of cooperation. This cooperation builds on an existing student exchange programme between Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark and several Japanese UNESCO Global Geoparks. Secondary school students broke the ice between the Geoparks of both countries several years ago and opened the door to strengthen the personnel relationships between the Asia-Pacific Geopark communities.
In September 2017, the exchange will be the reverse, and the Japanese delegates will visit their partners in China. All the involved UNESCO Global Geoparks are also working on a joint publication that will introduce all the Geoparks involved and share the excitement of geology. The publication will also highlight the excitement of geology, and broaden the awareness of UNESCO Global Geoparks in the region.