The UNESCO Director-General, Ms Audrey Azoulay, has released a special statement for Geodiversity Day, calling on the international community to use this new UNESCO International Day to "view familiar landscapes through fresh eyes". The full statement can be found below:
Geodiversity is the part of nature that is not alive – minerals, fossils, soils, mountains – as well as the geological processes that shape these features. It is the silent partner to biodiversity, helping us to understand the complex connections between the living and non-living worlds.
As such, geodiversity underpins food production, water management and energy production. It is also central to the ‘green’ transition: when used wisely, mineral resources can create wealth and jobs while decarbonizing development, all prerequisites for a sustainable future.
Understanding geological processes is therefore essential to explore the past, enjoy the present and prepare for an unpredictable future. Geodiversity can teach us about the impact of climate change at different periods of the Earth’s history, as well as cataclysmic events like the asteroid strike that led to the demise of dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
This is why UNESCO is dedicated to promoting and protecting the diversity of our geological heritage – through the unique landscapes in our 177 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 46 countries, but also our many Biosphere Reserves and World Heritage Sites. These UNESCO protected areas now cover 6% of the Earth’s surface.
As the only United Nations body with a mandate for the Earth sciences, UNESCO has spent the past 50 years fostering international cooperation to encourage better – and more equitable – use of the planet’s mineral resources, through its International Geoscience Programme.
This year, the Geoscience Programme is supporting over 60 collaborative projects, with 379 project leaders across 92 countries. Sixty-one project leaders are from 23 African countries, and 42% of project leaders are women – for more accessible and inclusive science worldwide.
Now UNESCO is stepping up these efforts, with the celebration of International Geodiversity Day every year on 6 October. In line with the decision taken by our 193 Member States at our 2021 General Conference, this new event will celebrate the close relationship between biodiversity, geodiversity, culture and history, raising awareness of “nature’s stage”.
Indeed, geodiversity plays a fundamental role in human well-being, sustainability and the preservation of world heritage, issues affecting the whole planet. On this International Day, UNESCO calls on the international community to galvanize the potential of geological sciences – and view familiar landscapes through fresh eyes.