At the 38th Session of the UNESCO General Conference, which was held in Paris in November 2015, the Charter of the International Geoscience and Geoparks Programme (IGGP) was adopted, as a result of which the Global Geoparks Network became an integral part of the UNESCO Geoscience Programme.
To coordinate the activities of Russia on the creation of geoparks, in 2015, the Committee of the International Geoscience and Geoparks Programme was established under the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO under the chairmanship of Academician M.A. Fedonkin, Director of the Geological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and O.V. Petrov, Director General of the A.P. Karpinsky Russian Geological Research Institute. (presentation of the Committee.pdf)
According to the Charter of the international geoscience and geoparks program, main criteria of the UNESCO geopark are:
In world practice, the term “Geopark” refers to an area with a geological heritage of international or regional significance, which implements strategies for the integrated management of geological and cultural heritage for innovative, integrated and sustainable development of the territory, respecting local traditions. There are two types (rank) of geoparks: regional and geoparks that have received the status of the UNESCO Global Geopark.
To date, 127 geoparks having international status have been created and are successfully operating in 37 countries (in China, there are 35 geoparks, which are part of the Global Geoparks Network and more than 100 are of regional significance; there are 11 geoparks in the Global Network in Spain, 10 in Italy and 8 in Japan). They are a kind of cultural, scientific and educational centres in the field of Earth sciences and unite geological, landscape, historical, technogenic and other features of particular regions.
In Russia, there are three statutory geoparks: the Altai Geopark created in 2016, the Yangan-Tau Geopark in the Republic of Bashkortostan created in 2017, and the Undoria Geopark in the Ulyanovsk Region created in 2018. Geoparks in the Irkutsk region (Baikal Geopark) and in Dagestan are being prepared for the approval.