Update on Evaluation and Revalidation missions to UNESCO Global Geoparks in 2020 – preparation of 2020 UNESCO Global Geoparks Council meeting
As per the Statutes, UNESCO was expected to conduct an evaluation or revalidation mission to sites that submitted their application last year between 1 October and 30 November and those that were expected to be revalidated this year, to assess their compliance with the operational guidelines for UNESCO Global Geoparks. The current COVID-19 pandemic has complicated the organisation of such missions. Over the last months, we have been closely monitoring, evaluating and anticipating the COVID-19 situation, following specific country instructions. We have taken into account several options, but the health and safety of all personnel, evaluators as well as that of the Geoparks staff remains our primary concern. In line with our previous messages and considering the development of the pandemic over the past weeks, it seems unlikely that the situation will sufficiently improve in large parts of the planet over the next coming months. We have all understanding for the difficulty to prepare a mission, for both parties, under such circumstances.
In consultation with the UNESCO Global Geoparks Council and the Global Geoparks Network, it was decided to postpone all revalidation missions and evaluation missions for eligible applicants until at least January 2021. If circumstances allow for it, all eligible applications for the establishment of UNESCO’s Geoparks received in 2020 cycle will be examined in 2021. This decision will have consequences in terms that we will have a large number of missions to be conducted next year and for the 2021 UNESCO Global Geoparks Council, which will need to consider a larger number of reports. We will adapt by spreading the missions over the year and prepare ourselves well in advance for the Council session. We will keep on updating you on relevant news in the meanwhile and will revert to you at the latest early 2021.
Kindly note that we intend to hold a UNESCO Global Geoparks Council, in person or virtually, early December 2020, to discuss submitted reports from deferred applications and other items regarding the governance of the IGGP programme. No new applications nor revalidations will be handled in that meeting for the reasons mentioned above. For files that were deferred by the 2018 and 2019 Council sessions, please note that the ultimate date for submission of the progress reports is 15 October 2020 if you wish the application to be handled by the coming UNESCO Global Geoparks Council.