UNESCO Global Geoparks: Review process of the Self Evaluation form
Review process of the Self Evaluation form – Form A – for the revalidation process of UNESCO Global Geoparks
or the application process of aspiring UNESCO Global Geoparks
In line with the Guidelines for UNESCO Global Geoparks and following the recommendation of the UNESCO’s evaluation of the International Geoscience and Geoparks Programme (IGGP) in 2020, it was decided to revise Form A. In an overall response to the request for further transparency and consistency, and to exclude subjective interpretation of the Statutes and Operational Guidelines, the IGGP Secretariat, in consultation with the Global Geoparks Network (GGN), its statutory partner, and the UNESCO Global Geoparks Council (UGGp Council) and Bureau started reviewing the previous Form A over a period of several months with numerous discussion and drafting meetings. This self-assessment form for aspiring UNESCO Global Geoparks that accompanies the application dossier, needed an update, to align it better with the statutory documents and criteria, and to give a clearer guidance to applying site managers and evaluators alike. Feedback from site managers and evaluators over the years that the document was in use learned that it left too much room for interpretation, lacked important information on aspects such as the Sustainable Development Goals, and didn’t allow a proper assessment of the quality of all important criteria as set out in the Operational Guidelines for UNESCO Global Geoparks. Also, as the application dossier has a limited number of pages, UNESCO and its partners drafted the revised form to allow applicants to elaborate on the different activities they implement, and in particular the quality of them, providing further information in annexes if so desired.
What worked well was kept, but the revised Form A was elaborated on important aspects and restructured. We believe that the revised form allows aspiring site managers to express better their diversity, quality and creativity. The document does not intend to put the standards higher; it just wishes to guide applicants with questions that offer them an opportunity to explain better how they can implement the different criteria from the Operational Guidelines, in light of their own local context. In that sense, the revised form now also includes questions related to sustainable development, geo-conservation and in particular legal instruments to protect geological heritage, the involvement of the local and indigenous population, climate change and disaster risk reduction, among others. In addition, the order of the questions now also follows the order of the criteria from the Operational Guidelines.
The scoring system was also reviewed accordingly. The principle here is that important criteria receive a higher weight. Important criteria are those that refer to the basic pillars of a functioning UNESCO Global Geopark, as per the Operational Guidelines and determined with the checklist by the UGGp Council in its 4th meeting. The system has also been adapted so as not to penalize sites where certain criteria are not applicable.
Process and next steps
The secretariat shared a first draft of the Form A with UNESCO National Commissions and national Geopark Committees in the course of the summer of 2020. The revised version was also presented and discussed at the Digital Forum for UNESCO Global Geoparks (16 and 17 October 2020) which delivered again very constructive feedback. Upon request, it was decided to test the revised Form A in real life circumstances. For that reason, the 5th UNESCO Global Geoparks Council (8 and 9 December 2020) decided that:
the updated form would be tested on a voluntary basis by the applicants that submitted their files in November 2019 and 2020.
National Commissions and National Geoparks Committees could also still share their comments on the updated form A during that period.
The revised form A will be updated with relevant feedback and suggestions and can be openly consulted via a shared folder that will be accessible through the UNESCO dedicated webpage for UNESCO Global Geoparks.
The Secretariat received very extensive feedback and drafted an overview table with all questions and comments and the way the Secretariat integrated this in a pre-final version.
Introductory note to the pre-final version of Form A
Pre-final version of Form A
Questions and comments to revised Form A
This version will be submitted for approval and adoption to the 6th UNESCO Global Geoparks Council, that is scheduled for December 2021 (10-12,dates to be confirmed) in Jeju (Republic of Korea). Once adopted, the new form A will be integrated from 2022 onwards taking into account a transition period.
The logic next step is that we revise the form B, the application and revalidation form, and corresponding progress reports, as well as the evaluator’s report forms along the same principles.