On the 25th of May 2017, the UNESCO Khartoum Office in partnership with the Sudanese National Commission for Education, Science and Culture (NATCOM) and Geological Research Authority of the Sudan (GRAS) organized a workshop for promoting UNESCO’s International Geosciences and Geoparks Programme (IGGP) in Sudan. The workshop took place in the Diamond Conference Hall on the premises of GRAS in the Ministry of Minerals (MoM). The workshop was generously funded by the Cairo office of UNESCO and private Sudanese partner: Alliance for Mining Ltd. The activity attended by more than 100 participants representing mainly the key stakeholders of the geology sector in Sudan, who was enriched by the representatives from the tourism, environment, culture, and education sectors from UNESCO’s networks.
The workshop opening ceremony was honoured by the Minister of Minerals, H.E. Prof. Hashim Ali Mohamed Salim, Undersecretary of the MoM, H.E. Dr. Nagmeldin Daoud, Representative of UNESCO to Sudan, H.E. Dr. Pavel Kroupkine, General Manager of the GRAS, H.E. Dr. Mohamed Abu Fatima Abdullah, and Deputy General Secretary of the Sudanese NATCOM, Dr. Wafaa Sidahmed. H.E. Prof. Hashim Salim, the Minister of Minerals, started the workshop by highlighting the needs to preserve Sudanese geo-heritage and requesting UNESCO’s partnership in establishing geo-parks in Sudan. H.E. Dr. Pavel Kroupkine, the UNESCO representative to Sudan, overviewed the UNESCO’s mission and practices, mentioned the general success of 60 years of Sudanese relationships with UNESCO, and confirmed the will of UNESCO to assist the country in promoting the IGGP Programme in Sudan in general, and geo-parks in particular. Dr. Wafaa Sidahmed, the Deputy General Secretary of the NATCOM, overviewed the efforts of the NATCOM in the area, and mentioned about the existence of more than 127 geoparks in 35 countries all over the Globe, including just one geopark in Arab States. H.E. Dr. Mohamed Abu Fatima Abdullah, the General Manager of the GRAS, stressed on the need to better represent the Geology / Earth Sciences in the Sudanese education curricula, and on the necessity of establishing mechanisms to protect and safely recruit the Sudanese geo-heritage to produce more benefits for the Sudanese society.
In the end of the opening session, the UNESCO Khartoum Office and NATCOM were honoured by the Ministry of Minerals and GRAS, underlining the level of partnership between the bodies.
The technical session included presentations of geology experts and a general discussion. Mr. Mohamed Osman Elgizouli, the Director of Project Planning Department in the GRAS, presented the areas, which could be promoted as geo-parks in Sudan, with reference to already existing examples of geo-parks in other countries. Prof Abdel-Halim Al-Nadi, the Sudanese IGCP expert and professor in the University of Khartoum, overviewed the geo-heritage around the World, and assessed the Sabaloga and West Bioyda sites in the vicinities of Khartoum for being first Sudanese geo-parks. Dr. Mohamed Abu Fatima Abdullah, the General Manager of the GRAS, emphasized other areas in Sudan with a potential of being nominated as geoparks, and proposed to prepare a joint booklet overviewing such places. He invited all participants of the workshop to start working on the joint file forwarding to the GRAS photos and descriptions of relevant areas in Sudan.
After the presentations, the participants, under the leadership of Dr. Mohamed Abu Fatima Abdullah and Dr. Wafaa Sidahmed, had discussed the subject of the workshop, and recommended to establish a special national body with representation from relevant key national stakeholders to organize the work on selecting potential Sudanese areas for being nominated to the UNESCO’s Global Geoparks Network.