Swabian Alb - UNESCO Global Geopark
What is a Geopark?
The term Geopark is a label for areas that have a particularly rich geological heritage. Geoparks are still a relatively young movement that emerged around the turn of the millennium.
2002: The Swabian Alb was designated a National Geopark.
2004: The Swabian Alb was designated a European and Global Geopark.
2015: The Swabian Alb was designated a UNESCO Global Geopark - the only one in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg.
And what is a UNESCO Global Geopark?
161 landscapes worldwide are allowed to carry this highest quality seal for landscapes, which is awarded by UNESCO. This designation impliess great potential, but also great responsibility.
UNESCO Geoparks have existed since 2015. Since then, the six UNESCO Global Geoparks in Germany have made great strides towards becoming model regions for sustainable development. Based on the history of earth and mankind, they face the social challenges of the present with holistic concepts for education, protection and sustainable development. These include climate change and the finiteness of natural (especially geological) resources. They develop plans and projects together with the residents of their regions and exchange ideas with their partners around the world as part of their international activities. This makes them an ideal platform for the implementation of the 17 global sustainability goals of the United Nations. Two brochures by the German UNESCO Commission clearly illustrates these goals and visions:
Swabian Alb UNESCO Global Geopark and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
UNESCO Global Geoparks - From geological heritage to a sustainable future.
Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) plays a key role here. With the adoption of the Global Sustainability Agenda, the world community has committed itself to ensuring high quality, inclusive and equitable education for people around the world for a lifetime by 2030. More information on the 17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and the Agenda 2030 can be found here.
UNESCO Geoparks create sustainable options for the future in their region. In addition, they are linked across regional borders by a global network.
Powerful network – an overview
In Europe there are 81 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 26 countries. They are organized in the EGN (European Geoparks Network) network. It will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2020. There are 161 UNESCO Global Geoparks worldwide. They are organized in the GGN (Global Geoparks Network) network.
There are two relevant organizations in Germany.
Forum of Global Geoparks:
Members are the six UNESCO Global Geoparks. Its task is to promote the Geopark idea and the geosciences, to give recommendations for the nomination of new UNESCO Global Geoparks and to support them in the development of concepts.
Association of German Geoparks (AdG):
It represents the interests of all currently 16 geoparks (not all of them have been awarded by UNESCO). The "National Geopark" rating is awarded by the GeoUnion expert group of the Alfred Wegener Foundation; The working group of the National Geoparks (AdG) has been legally anchored with rules of procedure in the Geotopes and Geoparks section of the German Society for Geology - Geological Association (DGGV) since April 2016.