Geoparks represent a special category of territories gradually getting national and international fame thanks to the special attention and care given to them by the geodiversity and geological heritage. UNESCO first launched the “GEOPARKS” programme in 1998, but the former Geoparks were born in Europe in 2000: the Petrified Forest on the Greek Island of Lesvos, the Geological Reserve in Haute Provence, France, the Vulkaneifel Geopark of Germany and the Cultural Park of Maestrazgo in Spain. These made up the European Geoparks Network (EGN-European Geoparks Network link www.europeangeoparks.org). It deals with territories that present important geological, geomorphological, scientific and cultural-educational qualities and aesthetic value that work together to find new strategies and projects to take care of and valorise the geological heritage. The first four Geoparks have therefore activated a strong cooperation with the intention of favouring a sustainable development through the valorisation of a general image linked to the geological heritage. Many ideas to promote Geotourism have come up from this bond and have also developed interesting experiences in the field of environmental education, formation and research in Earth Science. The Geoparks list is up-dated every year, twice a year with new entries or loss of memberships, consequently also the GeoParks maps are up-dated.
After awhile a group of international experts from UNESCO met up in Paris, in February 2004, to discuss and establish The Global Geoparks Network . The official launch was made formal in occasion of the 1st International UNESCO Conference on GeoParks held in Peking, China, in June 2004. The aim of such a Network was to pursue three important aims: conserve the geological environment, promote education on Earth Science and develop and sustain the local economic level, based also, on geological heritage.
From 2015 the Geoparks are priority project of Unesco: UNESCO Global Geoparks.
The GGN is organised through Regional GeoParks Network and there are 2017 Unesco Global Geopark in the world