The UNESCO Director-General, Ms Audrey Azoulay, has released a special statement for Geodiversity Day, calling it "a chance to refocus our efforts to ensure that everyone on this planet we call home has equitable access to the benefits that geodiversity brings". The full statement can be found below:
Message from Ms Audrey Azoulay,
Director-General of UNESCO,
for International Geodiversity Day
6 October 2023
Geodiversity is the essential part of nature that is not alive. It includes rocks, minerals, soils, and landscapes, as well as the processes that make and shape these features. Geodiversity is the silent partner to biodiversity, with every ecosystem in the world being reliant on some element of geodiversity for its existence.
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 and raising awareness of geological processes is therefore essential to explore the past, prepare for an unpredictable future and inform the sustainable management of our land, rivers and oceans, including flood management and climate adaptation. This was clear in September, when a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck central Morocco, causing widespread loss of life and extensive damage. It was followed by Storm Daniel in Libya, where torrential rainfall caused two dams to collapse upstream of the port city of Derna, with flooding washing away entire neighbourhoods.
Indeed, geodiversity can teach us about the impact of climate change at different periods in Earth’s history, as well as the almost four-billion-year-old story of how life has evolved on our planet. This is why UNESCO is committed to promoting and protecting the diversity of our geological heritage.
As the only United Nations body with a mandate in Earth sciences, UNESCO has spent more than 50 years fostering international cooperation to encourage better understanding – and more sustainable use of – our planet’s geodiversity through its International Geoscience Programme. We also protect unique geological landscapes and heritage in our UNESCO Global Geoparks, as well as the geodiversity present in our many Biosphere Reserves and World Heritage sites.
International Geodiversity Day is an opportunity to remember this vital and often overlooked part of nature, which is so important in our daily lives, from the building materials we use for our homes to everyday items such as batteries and the ubiquitous smartphone.
International Geodiversity Day is also a chance to refocus our efforts to ensure that everyone on this planet we call home has equitable access to the benefits that geodiversity brings. That means giving the public access to places where they can learn about the geological history and diversity of our planet and ensuring that opportunities for formal education, research and careers in the geosciences are open to all.
On this International Day, UNESCO calls on the international community to galvanize the potential of geological sciences – and view familiar landscapes through fresh eyes.