In 2000, 4 institutions came together and made a groundbreaking decision – the Geopark Vulkaneifel (Germany), the Natural History Museum of the island of Lesbos (Greece), the Geopark Haute Provence (France) and the Natural Park Maestrazgo (Spain) jointly founded the European Geopark Network (EGN).
This was about the protection of our earth-historical heritage, its connection to nutur and culture, mediation and tourism value, and sustainable regional development. And this as a common process from the respective regions – a so-called “bottom up” approach, which thrives on networking and participation. At that time, no one could have guessed how successful this combination was: from 4 to 76 members in 26 European countries within 20 years. And not only this – the European Geopark Network was the successful model for UNESCO in 2004 for the establishment of the Global Geopark Network (GGN).
The holistic approach that geoparks are implementing in their regions is more than timely in view of the global changes on our planet. Respect for nature, sustainable use of our resources, preservation, awareness-raising, partnerships and international understanding are part of the tasks to which UNESCO Global Geoparks are committed not only in Europe, but worldwide. The Global Agenda 2030 is becoming more and more prominent, as the above-mentioned tasks already support many of the 17 Global Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. This is why UNESCO has designated geoparks worldwide as model regions – for the mediation of the Global Agenda 2030 on the basis of concrete and comprehensible projects and activities on the ground.
Congratulations and, at the same time, warm thanks for 20 incredibly rich years of new insights, creative ideas, meaningful developments, growing confidence and good prospects – these are the components we need right now to shape our future.
(Text: Jutta Weber)