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UNESCO Global Geoparks
What is UNESCO Geopark? 
- UNESCO Global Geoparks are best described as unified, single and geographical regions where landscapes and sites of significance to international geology are adequately managed, in a holistic manner of protection. It is also protected by the concept of education, as well as sustainable development.
- The Geopark makes use of geological heritage, which relates to the relevant area’s cultural and natural heritage, to be able to increase awareness, as well as the understanding of all major issues that are faced in society today. These can include everything from the number of resources we use to the impact it has on the environment, sustainability, the mitigation of the effect of climate change, as well as reducing all-natural disasters that pose a threat or risk to humankind and earth itself.
- The UNESCO Geopark is thus established to combat these daily problems and raise awareness about the importance of the relevant area’s geological heritage when it comes to history and society.
- One of the primary goals, other than to support the earth and the area inside and to surround the Geopark, is to provide a sense of strength and pride within their region, along with their enterprises, new vacancies, along with high-quality courses.
- It is all arranged to provide the locals with a feeling of pride towards their region and helps to strengthen the community’s identification within their areas. These courses and vacancy-availability also allow for increased revenue, which is generated through geo-tourism, geological resources and more.
- UNESCO Global Geoparks all include features such as geological heritage of international importance, the management aspect thereof, the visibility of the park for exposure and lastly, networking to attract more individuals and communities to the park.
- Since UNESCO Global Geopark was established to empower local communities and provide them with an opportunity to develop a cohesive partnership with a goal in mind to promote areas that have significant geological processes, all features, different periods of time, geological beauty and historical themes.
- These parks were also established by use of a bottom-up process, which involved the relevant local, as well as regional stakeholders and authorities within the area. These included land organisations, tourism providers, community groups, local organisations and indigenous people.
- The process also required an established commitment by all local communities, which included a multiple solid partnership, which also had a long-term public, as well as political support. It also required the development of a comprehensive strategy, which was supposed to meet the communities goals, all while showcasing and defending areas of geological areas, which were also classified as important to local citizens.
UNESCO Global Geoparks and their contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals
Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Especially target 1.5:
"By 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters"
Disaster risk reduction is essential to ending poverty and fostering sustainable development. The bottom-up approach of the UNESCO Global Geoparks reduces the vulnerability of local communities to extreme events and other shocks and disasters through active risk awareness and resilience training.
Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Especially target 4.7:
"By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development"
UNESCO Global Geoparks actively educate their local communities and their visitors of all ages. UNESCO Global Geoparks are outdoor classrooms and incubators for sustainable development, sustainable lifestyles, appreciation of cultural diversity and the promotion of peace.
Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Especially target 5.5:
"Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life"
UNESCO Global Geoparks strongly emphasize the empowerment of women through educational programmes or the development of women’s cooperatives. Such cooperatives provide an opportunity for women to obtain an additional income in their own area and on their own terms.
Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Especially target 8.9:
"By 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and product"
The promotion of sustainable local economic development through sustainable (geo)tourism is one of the key pillars of a UNESCO Global Geopark. This creates job opportunities for the local communities through tourism, but also through the promotion of local culture and products.
Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Especially target 11.4:
"Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage"
Protection, safeguarding and celebrating our cultural and natural heritage are the foundation of the holistic approach of the UNESCO Global Geoparks. UNESCO Global Geoparks aim to give local people a sense of pride in their region and strengthen the identification with the area.
Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Especially target 12.8:
"By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature"
and target 12.b:
"Develop and implement tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products"
UNESCO Global Geoparks educate and create awareness on sustainable development and lifestyles. They teach the local communities and visitors to live in harmony with nature.
Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Especially target 13.3:
"Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning"
All UNESCO Global Geoparks hold records of past climate change and are educators on current climate change. Through educational activities awareness is raised on the issue and people are provided with knowledge to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.
Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
Especially target 17.6:
"Enhance North-South, South-South and triangular regional and international cooperation on and access to science, technology and innovation and enhance knowledge sharing on mutually agreed terms, including through improved coordination among existing mechanisms, in particular at the United Nations level, and through a global technology facilitation mechanism"
"Enhance international support for implementing effective and targeted capacity-building in developing countries to support national plans to implement all the sustainable development goals, including through North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation"
and target 17.16:
"Enhance the global partnership for sustainable development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the sustainable development goals in all countries, in particular developing countries"
UNESCO Global Geoparks are all about partnership and cooperation, not only between local stakeholders, but also internationally through regional and global networks were knowledge, ideas and best practices are shared. Experienced geoparks guide aspiring geoparks to reach their full potential.
 Source: http://ggn2016.com/about-ggn2016/