The Global Geoparks Network (GGN) is a non-profit, non-governmental association officially established in 2014 under French law. GGN is the official UNESCO partner organisation for the management and operation of the UNESCO Global Geoparks.
Initially created in 2004 as an international association developed under the auspices of UNESCO, it serves to develop models of good practice and establish quality standards for territories that integrate the protection and preservation of Earth heritage sites into a regional strategy for sustainable development.
This network is a platform for cooperation between Geoparks, government agencies, NGOs, scientists and communities from every country in the world, in a single partnership operating in accordance with UNESCO regulations.
The main mission is to promote the conservation, integrity and diversity of the abiotic and biotic nature, in a strategy that gives value to the unique heritage and identity of the territory as a whole. It provides support, develops quality standards and models of good practice for these territories that have chosen to integrate the preservation of geological heritage into a regional strategy of sustainable economic development.
The Global Network encourages networking and cooperation with other Geoparks and actors in the territory at all levels as one of its main distinctive features.
The European Geoparks Network (EGN) is a voluntary association of territories that share the same working method to promote and care for their local heritage, especially geological heritage. The objectives of the Network are set out in the EGN Charter, which was officially accepted on 5th June 2000 on the Greek island of Lesbos with the signing of the agreement by the four founding members. The territories that wish to apply to become a European Geopark are obliged to accept this Charter and will have to sign it at the time of the official appointment.
Principles of the European Geoparks Network Charter:
A European Geopark includes a geological heritage of particular importance in a defined territory. The Geopark has to establish a strategy for sustainable territorial development. The geological resources of a Geopark, in addition to being of geological interest (according to their scientific quality, rarity, aesthetic value or educational value), may also be of archaeological, ecological, historical or cultural interest.
The Geoparks integrated within the Network benefit from common protection and management measures. They have to be managed by a well-defined structure that can act throughout their territory. A Geopark must be able to guarantee the protection and conservation of its heritage and the improvement and sustainable development of the territory. A Geopark is not allowed to encourage the destruction or trade and sale of geological material, and in this respect it will be governed by the Charter of the World Geoparks Network (see below).
A Geopark has to work actively for the sustainable economic development of the territory linked to geotourism and geological heritage. It must contribute to promoting the values of the territory as a whole and involve its inhabitants.
A Geopark is committed to developing, researching and working for the continuous improvement of methods for the conservation and assessment of geological heritage.
A Geopark plays an important role in scientific research, training and environmental education.
A Geopark is committed to strengthening the cohesion of the European Network, it has to collaborate with other Geoparks and work together with local entrepreneurs to achieve a balance between economic development and conservation.
In the following link you can consult the European Geoparks Network Charter (EGN Charter, English version). Here you can also find an attachment on the Global Geoparks Network Charter, which further complements the way in which Geoparks must comply with the legislation in force, in relation the protection of geological heritage and where special emphasis is placed on the issue of trade and sale of geological material.
This network was proposed in 2007 in the framework of the first Asia-Pacific Geoparks Symposium, which was held in Langkawi (Malaysia). The Global Network was approved in 2018 as a regional network and formally entered the GGN governing body in 2013.
The network was founded in 2017 by the four UNESCO World Geoparks that existed at that time in this territory: Araripe (sidode Ceará, Brazil), Grutas del Palacio (departamento deFlores, Uruguay), Comarca Minera (sidod’Hidalgo, Mexico) and Mixteca Alta (sidod’Oaxaca, Mexico).
In November 2019, the UNESCO World Geoparks of Me Goun (Morocco) and Ngorongoro-Lengai (Tanzania) signed the Foundational Declaration for the establishment of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network in Africa. This document is the basis for the creation of the African Regional Geoparks Network, which should be incorporated into the body of the Global Geoparks Network in the near future.
On the North American continent there is currently no regional network. The country with the best organization is Canada, which has a network of 5 members. This network acts as a national committee to coordinate relations with UNESCO.