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Sustainable Development Goals

UNESCO Global Geoparks contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals helping to to transform our world for the better

UNESCO Global Geoparks contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals: celebrating earth heritage, sustaining local communities

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 and aim to transform our world.  Within these goals there are specific targets to be reached. SDGs are a call to action to end poverty and inequality, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy health, justice and prosperity. UNESCO Geoparks are the only global territories whose aims align with aspects or targets within almost all sustainable development goals.

Our missions relate to conserving the geological heritage and other heritages within the Geoparks. In addition, they relate to education and, of course, research.

One of our primary missions is, through heritage promotion, to develop integrated sustainable development policies. However, these sustainable development strategies cannot exist without actions on poverty reduction, gender equality, and community involvement.

How Geoparks contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals

Goal 1:”End poverty in all its forms, everywhere.” Geoparks focus on Target 1.5 – Building resilience against climate and environmental shocks and disasters. Disaster risk reduction is essential to ending poverty and fostering sustainable development. The bottom-up approach of the UNESCO Global Geoparks reduces the vulnerability of local communities to extreme events and other shocks and disasters through active risk awareness and resilience training.

Goal 3: “Good Health and well-being”

UNESCO Geoparks participate towards this goal for the local population and visitors alike. Geoparks improve physical and mental health outcomes by encouraging outdoor activities and sports and proximity to nature. 

Goal 4:“To ensure inclusive and equitable high-quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. Geoparks focus on Target 4.7- Education for sustainable development and global citizenship. 

UNESCO Global Geoparks actively educate local communities and visitors of all ages. Educational methods are varied and include using local interpretive guides and creating panels, brochures, guidebooks and posters to promote global citizenship while valuing the area’s cultural diversity. Global Geoparks are outdoor classrooms and incubators for sustainable development, sustainable lifestyles, appreciation of cultural diversity and promoting peace.

Goal 5:“To achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”. Geoparks focus on Target 5.5 – to ensure full participation in leadership and decision-making. 

UNESCO Global Geoparks strongly emphasise women’s empowerment through educational programmes and the development of women’s cooperatives. Such cooperatives allow and empower the women to actively contribute to community life while obtaining additional income in their own area and on their own terms. The development of these co-operative often tie in with the traditional skills and knowledge passed on from parent to child.

Goal 6: “Ensure access to water and sanitation for all”. Geoparks focus on Targets 6.3 – to improve water quality; and 6.6 – to protect and restore water-related ecosystems. 

Geoparks work with many partners to ensure water soaking into the rocks and flowing over the surface is not polluted and that wetlands are healthy and functioning ecosystems.

Goal 8:“Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all”. Geoparks focus on Target 8.9 – promoting beneficial and sustainable tourism.

Promoting sustainable local economic development through (geo)tourism is one of the key pillars of a UNESCO Global Geopark. Sustainable geotourism and nurturing local culture and products create job opportunities for communities in the Geopark, and visitors can truly experience the area’s uniqueness.

Goal 9:“To build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation”

UNESCO Global Geoparks are areas where the geological heritage, or geodiversity, is of international importance. Geoparks are involved in implementing the results of scientific research into geological conservation, tourism, heritage and sustainable local development.

Global Geoparks work with academic and research institutions to engage in active scientific research to advance our knowledge about the Earth and its processes. Geoparks are active laboratories where people can become involved in science at all levels, from the highest academic research to the curiosity of a casual visitor.

Goal 10:“To reduce inequalities within or among countries” UNESCO Geoparks work using a bottom-up process that ensures local input from all. Local people are closely involved in the development of their place and participate equally in the decision and future of the Geoparks. 

Goal 11:“Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. Geoparks focus on Target 11.4 to strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage.” 

Protecting, safeguarding and celebrating our cultural and natural heritage is the foundation of the holistic approach of the UNESCO Global Geoparks. In addition, Geoparks give local people a sense of pride in their region and strengthen their identification with the area.

Goal 12:“To ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”. Geoparks focus on Target 12.8 – to ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature.

UNESCO Global Geoparks educate and create an understanding of sustainable development and lifestyles. They teach the local communities and visitors to live in harmony with nature.

Goal 13:“To take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts”. Geoparks focus on Target 13.3 – to build knowledge and capacity to meet climate change.

All UNESCO Global Geoparks hold records of past climate change in their very rocks and are educators on current climate change. Through educational activities and raising awareness on the issue, people are provided with the knowledge to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.

Goal 14:“To conserve and sustainably use the world’s ocean, seas and marine resources”

Geology doesn’t stop at the seashore, carrying on under the oceans and influencing life below the water as it does on the land. Many UNESCO Geoparks are located close to marine areas and participate in conserving life underwater.

Goal 15:“To protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems”

UNESCO Global Geoparks are areas that use the concept of sustainability, value the heritage of Mother Earth and recognise the need to protect it.

Indigenous, local, regional, national and international laws protect a Geopark’s defining geological sites. Geopark managers then cooperate with the appropriate agencies to ensure the necessary monitoring and maintenance of these sites.

Goal 17:”To strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development”. Geoparks focus on Targets 17.6 – knowledge sharing and cooperation for access to science, technology and innovation; 17.9 – enhancing sustainable development goals in developing countries; and 17.16 – enhancing global partnerships for sustainable development. 

UNESCO Global Geoparks are all about partnership and cooperation between local stakeholders and internationally through regional and global networks where knowledge, ideas and best practices are shared. Established geoparks guide aspiring geoparks to reach their full potential.

UNESCO Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where holistic concepts of protection, education and sustainable development manage sites and landscapes of international geological significance. A Global Geopark uses its geological heritage to enhance awareness and understanding of society’s critical issues in connection with all other aspects of the area’s natural and cultural heritage. These issues include using Earth’s resources sustainably, mitigating the effects of climate change and reducing the impact of natural disasters. By raising awareness of the importance of the area’s geological heritage in history and society today, UNESCO Global Geoparks give local people a sense of pride in their region and strengthen their identification with it. In addition, the Geoparks stimulate the creation of innovative local enterprises, new jobs, and high-quality training courses as geotourism generates new sources of revenue. At the same time, the protection of the geological resources of the area remains paramount.

For more information on Sustainable Development Goals, visit here –