Since its establishment in 2016, the Kefalonia - Ithacaaspiring Geopark, guided by the particularly important geodiversity and biodiversity of the two islands and their rich cultural heritage, has set itself the goal of joining the European GeoparksNetwork and the GlobalGeoparksNetwork. In fact, since November 17, 2015, when the General Assembly of UNESCO in Paris unanimously accepted the creation of a new program, the "International Geosciences and Geoparks Program", the Geoparks belonging to the Global GeoparksNetwork can be nominated as "UNESCO Global Geoparks". Thus, if the integration of the Geopark of Kefalonia - Ithaca in the Geoparks’Networks will be successful, the territory will be able to be recognized as a "UNESCO Global Geopark" and will be able to bear the UNESCO logo. With its inclusion in the geoparks’ networks, automatically the inclusion of the Geopark in the Hellenic Geoparks Forum is activated.
The Hellenic Geoparks Forum was established in order to coordinate territories in Greece that have been recognized as geoparks and have been included in the European Geoparks Network but also in the Global GeoparksNetwork. The Hellenic Geoparks Forum aims to organize actions for the promotion of Greek geoparks but also to coordinate actions for the protection and promotion of the Greek geological heritage and geological monuments. Currently, the following UNESCO World Geoparks are included in the Hellenic Geoparks Forum: Lesvos Island (2000), Psiloritis Natural Park (2001), Helmos - Vouraikos National Park (2009), the territory of Vikos - Aoos National Park (2010) and the Sitia Natural Park (2015).
Figure 1 Hellenic Geoparks Forum
European Geoparks Network EGN (http://www.europeangeoparks.org/)
The European Geoparks Network started in 2000 with a LEADER action for "Sustainable Rural Development", which initially involved 4 Geoparks from 4 different European countries, the Haute-Provence Geopark, the Vulkaneifel Geopark, the Petrified Forest of Lesvos and the Maestrazgo Geopark. Today, the Network has grown consisting of 81 European UNESCO World Geoparks from 26 different countries. The purpose of the Network is to coordinate the European Geoparks, which are usually degraded rural areas of Europe, on the protection and promotion of their geological heritage, in conjunction with the promotion of the natural and cultural heritage of their territories, by promoting sustainable development activities as well(such as educational and geotouristic) for these territories and their local residents.
Figure 2 European Geoparks Network EGN
Global GeoparksNetworkGGN (http://www.globalgeopark.org/index.htm)
The Global Geoparks Network is an international non-profit organization based in Paris that aims to promote the protection of geological heritage worldwide and to develop geotourism as a form of alternative tourism. The Network was created in 2004 under the auspices of UNESCO with the inclusion of 17 European and 8 Chinese Geoparks. Today, 161 UNESCO Global Geoparks belong to the Network from 44 different countries of the world. The main goal of the Network in collaboration with UNESCO is to organize and integrate geoparks from all continents as well as to create other continental networks. In addition to the European Network, the Asia-Pacific Network, the Latin American-Caribbean Network, the North American Geopark Network and the African Geopark Network are currently operational.
Figure 3 Global Geoparks Network GGN
UNESCO Global Geoparks Program (http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/environment/earth-sciences/unesco-global-geoparks/)
On November 17, 2015, General Assembly of UNESCO Member States (195 members) unanimously approved the creation of the new International Geoscience and Geoparks Program (IGGP). In order for a territory to be recognized as UNESCO Global Geopark it should be a unified geographical area where sites and landscapes of International Geological Value are found and which is managed by a management body that promotes and organizes in a holistic way the protection and promotion of this geological heritage and at the same time promotes education activities and sustainable development activities of the local communities in the Geopark. UNESCO promotes networking and development of cooperation between Geoparks and other bodies and organizations and at the same time supports the efforts of its Member States to establish UNESCO Global Geoparks worldwide. UNESCO through its decisions determines the basic rules governing the operation of UNESCO Global Geoparks and the Networks that manage them.