2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 2:00 PM


EDER, F. Wolfgang, Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences, UNESCO, 1, Rue Miollis, Paris, 75015, France, w.eder@unesco.org

Unfortunately, Earth sciences related items appear in the headlines of all media mainly in connection with negative, disastrous events – like tsunamis, earthquakes, landslides or volcanic eruptions. But, this provides sometimes a proper opportunity to alert the public at large, as well as the decision makers, on the importance of Geology, Geophysics, the integrity of Earth sciences, that without improving a general understanding of the geodynamic processes of our restless Planet, no sound management of the environment or serious risk-prevention policies against natural disasters can be set into force. An excellent method in approaching this goal is the establishment and the use of “Geoparks” as an educational tool.

“Geoparks” are a vehicle through which millions of people can be brought into touch on one hand with the threats, but on the other hand also with the vulnerability and beauty of Geology and Nature. This is reflecting, too, the demands of the United Nations to increase the “Respect for Nature”, based on a better understanding of the “Value of Nature”.

During the year 2004 much has happened:

· UNESCO's ‘Global Geoparks Network' was launched in February 2004;

· The 1st International Conference on Geoparks was organized in Beijing (June 2004);

· A remarkable number of ‘Geoheritage'-sessions took place at the 32nd International Geological Congress in Florence, Italy (August 2004): on initiative of IUGS the joint IUGS-UNESCO-IGU task force ‘GEOSEE' was created;

· The Conference on “Earth Heritage: World Heritage” (Dorset, UK, September 2004) brought together national and international stakeholders in ‘Geoconservation', such as UNESCO (World Heritage Centre, Earth Sciences), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), ProGEO, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) of UK, English Nature, the European Geoparks Network (EGN), and the European Council. UNESCO's Geoparks initiative was presented and adopted as fruitful complementary activity to the World Heritage- and Biosphere Reserves-Programmes of UNESCO.

· At the 5th European Geoparks Conference, held in Sicily/Italy (October 2004) an agreement was reached to integrate the EGN as continental structure within the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network, and to use its expertise in establishing similar continental networks in Africa, America, Asia, Australia and the Pacific.