The Global Geoparks conference: “time to act”

“We are here to discuss climate change, global warming, the enhancement of our geological heritage and environmental education. It’s time to act and geoparks are faced with the challenge of enhancing their environmental and geological heritage in order to raise awareness and promote good practices that will contribute to its conservation”. This call to arms from the director of the Adamello-Brenta Geopark, Joseph Masè, captures the spirit of the 850 delegates from 64 nations and from every continent who gathered at the eighth International Conference on UNESCO Global Geoparks which was held from 11 to 14 September in Madonna di Campiglio (TN).

The delegates, representing countries as diverse as China, Canada, Indonesia and Finland, all spoke in chorus, committed to finding a way to enhance their geological heritage, acknowledged by all as an opportunity for the communities living there, and to strike a balance between conservation and development of the territory: “We don’t need great big constructions, we just have to make good use of our natural and cultural resources without harming that which nature has given us”, invited the president of the Global Geoparks Network, Nickolas Zouros.

There are 140 geoparks around the world: 72 are in Europe, of which 10 are in Italy, 59 in the Asia-Pacific area, 4 in Latin America and the Caribbean, 3 in Canada and 2 in Africa (in Morocco and Tanzania).

The conference had organised a busy programme of scientific sessions and workshops, with a total of 300 contributions. Delegates were also able to engage directly with their counterparts, thanks to the 29 stands in the “Geofair” exhibition space, which included that of the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation.


The Adamello-Brenta Natural Park was granted the title of Geopark in 2008 and in 2015 joined the European and global network of geoparks. Why?

“Primarily for its rich geodiversity” explains geologist Vajolet Masè, “because the Park is home to the Brenta Dolomites with their sedimentary rocks, the Adamello Presanella group with intrusive magmatic rocks, effusive rocks in the Rendena valley and metamorphic rocks. Basically an open-air laboratory containing all four different kinds of rock”. This geodiversity, coupled with the rich biodiversity of the Natural Park, creates a heritage within the heritage, as the Brenta Dolomites are one of the nine Dolomite systems recognised by UNESCO in 2009 as a single Property.


Given the integration between the different UNESCO programmes, the UNESCO Dolomites Foundations took an active part in the proceedings, giving its all-important contribution. On the opening day of the conference, one of the informative panoramic balconies built by the provinces in accordance with the Foundation’s specifications was inaugurated. The Autonomous Province of Trento and the Adamello Brenta Geopark decided to locate it near Malga Ritort: “These balconies are structures built in settings that are already, to an extent, man-made”, explained the director of the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation, Marcella Morandini. “Our objective is to raise visitor awareness but also to show the reach of the Dolomite Property, which covers five provinces and three regions. We plan to have seven panoramic balconies throughout the UNESCO Dolomites territory by spring 2019: a great way of reminding everyone of the unique nature of these mountains whose active conservation we should all be responsible for”.