The UNESCO General Conference decided in November 2015 to create a dedicated programme for Geoparks, much in line with, for example, the World Heritage and Man and Biosphere programmes. However, achieving a UNESCO Global Geopark status will likely become even more challenging in the future and require several years’ of sustainable work and networking with the Global, European and national Geoparks Networks. It is also likely that the application process and the requirements for establishing a Geopark will change as well.
The Geoparks Network first emerged when four geologically interesting areas located in southern Europe wanted to attract more interest in the world’s geological heritage. At present (December 2015), the European Geoparks Network includes 68 Geoparks from 23 countries. More information about the European Geoparks Network is available at www.europeangeoparks.org
The Global Geoparks Network has 120 Geoparks in 33 countries. Most of the Geoparks are located in Europe and Asia, which have also strong local networks. Further information about the Global Geoparks Network is at www.globalgeoparksnetwork.org
Finland has one Geopark that has achieved a UNESCO Global Geopark status, namely the Rokua Geopark located near the city of Oulu. Further information about the Rokua Geopark is available at www.rokuageopark.fi