The Geoparks concept adds a new dimension to the 1972 World Heritage Convention by highlighting the potential for interaction between socio-economic and cultural development and the conservation of the natural environment.
The Global Geoparks Network (GGN) was established in 2004, under the umbrella of UNESCO, as an international network, which provides a platform of cooperation among Geoparks. The GGN brings together governmental agencies, local authorities, universities, research institutions, non-governmental organizations, scientists and experts from countries around the world.
The GGN consists today a unique worldwide partnership including 120 Global Geoparks in 33 countries working to protect geological heritage sites and landscapes on international importance and promote local sustainable development.
The GGN’s mission is to influence, encourage and assist local societies all over the world to valorize their unique heritage and identity, to conserve the integrity and diversity of abiotic and biotic nature, to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and sustainable and to support economic and cultural development of local communities through the development of sustainable tourism. Thus Geoparks are promoted as innovative sustainable tourism destinations!
In 2014 after one decade of successful operation as a volunteer network the GGN gained legal personality. The GGN General Assembly in Stonehammer Global Geopark, Canada agreed to the new GGN Statutes, which follow the ICOM model and the GGN became an international non-profit association.
On November 17th 2015 the 38th UNESCO General Conference ratified the statutes of the new International Geoscience and Geoparks Programme and the UNESCO Global Geoparks Operational Guidelines, introducing the brand UNESCO Global Geopark as a label of excellence for areas that meet the criteria set by the above mentioned guidelines. In doing so, it has legally endorsed the new UNESCO label of “UNESCO Global Geopark" and the endorsement of the existing 120 Global Geoparks to become UNESCO Global Geoparks with immediate effect.
Thus GGN is the official partner of UNESCO for the operation of the UNESCO Global Geoparks under the umbrella of the International Geosciences and Geoparks Programme (IGGP).
The Global Geoparks Network (GGN) as international association
The Global Geoparks Network (GGN) is an international organization subject to French legislation (the 1901 law on associations) maintaining formal relations with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
According to its statutes the GGN is the international organisation of the Global Geoparks and Global Geopark professionals which is committed to the conservation, management and communication to the society of the Earth’s heritage as an integral part of the world's natural and cultural heritage, tangible and intangible.
The GGN organises co-operation and mutual assistance between Global Geoparks and between Global Geopark professionals.
The GGN initiates and co-ordinates Regional Geopark Networks which foster international co-operation and promotion of sustainable development.