Building peace in the minds of men and women

UNESCO Global Geoparks (UGGp)

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How to become a geopark

The UNESCO Global Geoparks Secretariat at UNESCO Headquarters coordinates the proposal submissions and is ready to provide advice. If existing in your country, National Geopark Committees or other UNESCO Global Geoparks may also be able to assist, as well as regional networks of the UNESCO Global Geoparks.

There are regular calls for Grants and Exchange Programmes supported by UNESCO to train and coach Geopark projects and aspiring UNESCO Global Geoparks. International or regional UNESCO Global Geoparks meetings, conferences, workshops, or short courses are other opportunities to learn more about UNESCO Global Geoparks.

Before any formal application, any aspiring UNESCO Global Geopark must submit an expression of interest via the official channel as set out in the Statutes and Operational Guidelines for UNESCO Global Geoparks.

Please follow carefully all the information provided below. UNESCO also provides a checklist to guide you in the preparation of your application file – be sure you meet the criteria before applying.
 

1. Preparation before sending a candidature

Before starting, please have a look at the compilation of the frequently asked questions about UNESCO Global Geoparks and at the checklist below. 

The checklist is structured around 101 essential questions. It is a handy tool to assess your Geopark project against the quality criteria for UNESCO Global Geoparks, defined by the Operational Guidelines for UNESCO Global Geoparks - see section 3 (viii). It will help you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your project and tell you if you are ready to apply, or if more work is needed to improve important criteria. This checklist comes with an Explanatory Note that provide further information, examples and guidance for questions marked with (*).  Please note that this Checklist and its Explanatory Note are not statutory documents, they are designed as a quick and easy dashboard to measure the preparedness to apply. They do not replace the application file and Form A (Self-evaluation Form).

 

A successful UNESCO Global Geopark application should at least demonstrate that:

  • It has geological heritage of international value and is managed by a body having legal existence recognized under national legislation.
  • The management body should include all relevant stakeholders, including partners, the scientific, local and indigenous (if any) community.
  • It should have a comprehensive management plan, covering governance, development, communication, protection, infrastructure, finance, and partnership issues.
  • It should already discuss and exchange with other UNESCO Global Geoparks as well as with the Global Geoparks Network.
  • It should connect its geological heritage with its cultural and natural heritage and use this for educational purposes, awareness raising, and informing visitors and locals alike.
  • It should of course be a single unified territory – no interrupted borders, the entire territory should be involved in the Geopark’s activities.
  • Make sure that if the Geopark project is closer than 100km from an existing UNESCO Global Geopark, that an independent study is undertaken to demonstrate the geological difference and possible complementarity with that Geopark.
  • It is also important that the Geopark engages in a proper branding, and engages in visibility and communication, to both visitors and local people through a dedicated website, signposts, panels, museums, geopark corners, visitor centres, leaflets, and detailed map of the area that connects the area’s geological and other sites. An aspiring UNESCO Global Geopark must have a corporate identity, differentiating it from other designations or protected areas in the area.

For transnational Geoparks

In many cases, geological boundaries, shaped by rivers, mountain ranges, oceans and deserts, do not follow the boundaries drawn by people. UNESCO Global Geoparks, too, do not always follow human-made borders. Some UNESCO Global Geoparks therefore naturally cross-national borders, connecting the peoples of different countries and encouraging intimate regional, cross-border cooperation. It is through this strong cross-border cooperation that transnational UNESCO Global Geoparks strengthen the relationship between countries and contribute to peacebuilding efforts. In 2008, the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark expanded from Northern Ireland across the border into the Republic of Ireland, becoming the world’s first transnational Global Geopark. Situated in a former conflict area, this UNESCO Global Geopark, which changed its name in the meanwhile to Cuilcagh Lakelands is now seen as a global model for peacebuilding and community cohesion. UNESCO actively supports the creation of transnational UNESCO Global Geoparks – especially in regions of the world where there are none yet.

Examples of transnational UNESCO Global Geoparks:

 
Resources:

 

2. Sending the application

Before sending the application, the proposing Geopark needs to submit an Declaration of Interest via the official channel as defined by your National Commission for UNESCO or the government body in charge of the relations with UNESCO. This should reach the Secretariat preferably on the same year as the application. 

Prepare a comprehensive and carefully formatted application dossier (including supporting material to demonstrate that the area has already been functioning as a de facto Geopark for at least one year). Remember that all applications must be sent and completed in English.

Please take the following recommendations into consideration:

  • If using images, make sure they are of high quality and visible. This includes maps and graphs.
  • Check the completeness of the list of mandatory annexes, especially:
    • Respect the formats and the use of the United Nations Maps, specially for the 1-page geological and geographical summary template (Annex 5)
    • Send the shape files with large scale map (Annex 4)
    • Send the Self Evaluation form (Annex 1) in Excel format.
    • Make sure you send the shapefiles that complete the map.
    • Please double check the text of the Annex 5 – Geological and Geographic summary. This text will be used to present the application to Member States. It is important that content, style and grammar are well prepared and checked.

Submit the application via the official channel as defined by your National Commission for UNESCO or the government body in charge of the relations with UNESCO. Remember that your application will go through a process of Intergovernmental check for 3 months.

 

3. Evaluation mission

These assessments are carried out by two evaluators, which are chosen from the official “Roster of Evaluators”. These evaluators have combined and proven professional experience relevant for UGGp development (geological heritage, conservation, sustainable development, tourism development and promotion, and environmental issues).

The main objectives of assessment of the areas are to:

  1. become familiar with all aspects of the area;
  2. review in situ the application, self-evaluation, and other documents of the application dossier, or, for the revalidations, progress report, progress evaluation form and other documents related to the revalidation;
  3. carefully review boundaries, threats and management;
  4. to provide constructive commentary and recommendations as and where appropriate.

The evaluation mission programme with the itinerary and detailed agenda of a minimum of 4-days visit to the region and including meetings with all relevant stakeholders, must be shared and agreed on between the area to be evaluated and the evaluators and later sent to UNESCO Secretariat, 1 month before the mission. Please follow the Guidelines for UNESCO Global Geopark Field Inspection Missions Evaluations & Revalidations.

 

4. Decision process

The UNESCO Global Geopark Council will review each application, the Desktop Assessment of the geological heritage and the Field Evaluation Report sent by the evaluators. It will then recommend accepting, rejecting or deferring.

In the case of a deferred application:  

  • The Geopark will be given a maximum of two years to undertake improvements based on the recommendations made by the Council.
  • A report demonstrating that the improvements have been implemented should be sent to the Secretariat according to the deadline stated on the deferral letter.
  • A new field evaluation will not be conducted during the two years given by the deferred status.
  • If two years after receiving the deferred status, the Geopark does not submit a report, the application will be considered null and a new application procedure must be started.
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In the Spring meeting the Executive Board of UNESCO, endorse the nominations decided upon by the Council.
 

The timelines for UNESCO Global Geopark proposals and evaluation procedure are:

  • Geopark project sends a letter of intent, ideally by 1 July (year 1)
  • Submission of applications between 1 October and 30 November
  • Verification checks on completeness of documents after 1 December
  • Desktop evaluations until 30 April (year 2)
  • Field evaluation missions starting 1 May
  • Recommendations on applications by the UNESCO Global Geoparks Council in September
  • Decision by the Executive Board of UNESCO during its spring session (year 3)
 

 


 

All related documents for aspiring Geoparks. 

Statutory Documents (essential documents to be consulted or sent as part of an application) 

Guidance Documents:

 

For further information please contact: