UNESCO names 18 new Global Geoparks

The Executive Board of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has endorsed the addition of 18 sites to the UNESCO Global Geoparks network. This brings the total number of geoparks to 195 in 48 countries. New Zealand and the Philippines, two new UNESCO Member States, join the network.

The 18 new designations have brought the network up to 195 UNESCO Global Geoparks, covering a total surface area of 486,709 square kilometers, equivalent to twice the size of the United Kingdom.

Zhangye UNESCO Global Geopark, northwest China's Gansu Province. (Photo: CFP)

The UNESCO Global Geopark label was created in 2015. It recognizes geological heritage of international significance. Geoparks serve local communities by combining the conservation of their significant geological heritage with public outreach and a sustainable approach to development.

China plays an important role in the Global Geoparks network and currently has 41 geoparks in the world, ranking first in number.