UNESCO Global Geoparks continue supporting communities during COVID-19 pandemic

UNESCO Global Geoparks have launched various initiatives in the context of the COVID19 pandemic in order to support local communities.

The COVID-19 epidemic, a global public health crisis, resonates particularly strongly with UNESCO’s core missions. The Organisation, through its sites and through its partnerships and cooperation with territories throughout the world, is committed to supporting and enhancing scientific, cultural, and educational cooperation and promotes solidarity-initiatives that enable us today to face together this unprecedented crisis.

UNESCO Global Geoparks are territories with geological heritage of international importance but are also innovative territories for local and sustainable economic development, quality education, and resource preservation. Recognized by UNESCO, these 147 Geoparks, spread over the 5 continents and over 40 countries, work together, on a daily basis, for a more resilient future.

While emphasizing the interaction between socio-economic development and the preservation of natural resources, UNESCO Global Geoparks are developing new approaches to our relationship with nature and remain, in times of crisis, dynamic and living territories, as they have once again proven in recent weeks, whether in Japan, Portugal, Canada, Ireland, France or Thailand.

Unesco Global Geoparks, engaging and supporting communities

There are many examples of community support, in particular through civic and scientific education, demonstrating the strong bond between UNESCO Global Geoparks and their territories. Indeed, they mobilize political and scientific actors, as well as businesses and inhabitants in their territories, and foster synergies for their development, by establishing strong partnerships and participative and sustainable projects. In order to assure the involvement of their inhabitants and communities, Geoparks continue to propose participatory science actions, as in the Naturtejo UNESCO Global Geopark in Portugal, which takes advantage of the confinement to launch an inventory of fossils that can be found in the built heritage, in the very walls and foundations of their houses, and also develops solidarity actions.

In the Massif des Bauges UNESCO Global Geopark, in France, a participative platform of initiatives enables the inhabitants to be linked up for exchanges of services, but also supports the most disadvantaged in the face of the health crisis: some offer to do the shopping for the elderly or to maintain a social link by telephone with isolated people, while others offer to repair remote computer systems for teleworkers.

In Thailand, in the Satun UNESCO Global Geopark, local textile companies manufacture masks in the Geopark’s colours to protect the community. Through their communication with the inhabitants, Geoparks also contribute to the enforcement of safety regulations and state directives: in the Itogawa UNESCO Global Geopark in Japan, for example, mascots now wear masks, and the logo has been modified to promote social distancing.

The Imbabura Geopark in Ecuador sends positive messages to its inhabitants encouraging them to respect the containment through videos and images in the different indigenous languages spoken in the territory.

The creativity of UNESCO Global Geoparks does not stop there: their experience in environmental education and sustainable development, coupled with the great responsiveness of teams in the field, has given rise to a multitude of educational tools that are now available online for all audiences: educational cartoons for the Lanzarote UNESCO Global Geopark in Spain for the youngest children, scientific experiments to be carried out at home with the family for the Tumbler Ridge UNESCO Global Geopark in Canada, but also geology lessons for students directly on certain sites thanks to virtual reality tools in the Arouca UNESCO Global Geopark in Portugal.

By promoting territorial heritage, whether natural, cultural or intangible, in a holistic approach, UNESCO Global Geoparks link producers and consumers in their territories. For example, some areas have developed online purchasing platforms to enable local residents to consume locally, as is the case of the Copper Coast UNESCO Global Geopark in Ireland. The Arouca UNESCO Global Geopark, in Portugal, is also proposing to bring the consumer closer to the producer while keeping populations safe, through the Arouca Agricola producers’ cooperative, which has been organizing delivery rounds of fresh and local products directly to homes since the beginning of the health crisis.

The UNESCO Global Geoparks form a close-knit community, now more than ever. Together with its institutional partner, the Global Geoparks Network (GGN), UNESCO shares good practices observed in these territories as sources of inspiration for us all and is launching a communication campaign on its social networks. While some 1.7 billion people are now forced to stay at home by government protection measures, UNESCO’s institutional partner, the Global Geoparks Network, has launched VISIT US!  to enable everyone to discover UNESCO Global Geoparks around the world.

We wish you a pleasant journey.

 

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If you would like to share other examples of good practice in UNESCO Global Geoparks in these times of health crisis, you can contact us at the following email address: c.besombes@unesco.org(link sends e-mail)

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