UNESCO Global Geoparks
The 195 Member States of UNESCO ratified the creation of a new label, the UNESCO Global Geoparks, on 17 November 2015. This expressed governmental recognition of the importance of managing outstanding geological sites and landscapes in a holistic manner. This new designation formalized UNESCO's relationship with the Global Geoparks Network (GGN), which received ad hoc support from UNESCO since 2001. The network was set up to conserve earth's geological heritage, as well as to promote the sustainable research and development by the concerned communities. The GGN membership is formed by geoparks—local areas focused on the protection of geological features and the celebration of that and the wider heritage.
The first batch of members to the GGN were announced during the first International Conference on Geoparks in 2004. Since 2015, the application and designation process is defined by the Statutes and Operational Guidelines of the UNESCO Global Geoparks. As of July 2020, there were 161 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 44 countries There are now GGN member sites situated in 5 of 7 continents and there being none currently in either Antarctica or Australasia. Notably there are not yet (2020) any global geoparks in the United States or South Asia and most of Africa (except Morocco, Tanzania and Canarias). China is the country with the largest number of global geoparks.