An international conference dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the UNESCO International Geoscience Programme held in Almaty, Kazakhstan

6 July 2022

On 13-18 June 2022, an international conference Million years before the Silk Road dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the UNESCO International Geoscience Programme (IGCP) was held in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The meeting was organized by the UNESCO Office in Almaty and other partners, supported by the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan. It was held in online and offline mode and brought together about 75 representatives from academia, tourism sector, non-governmental organization, government entities in charge of nature protection, geology, universities and youth from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Germany, China, Russian Federation, to discuss the importance of preserving unique geological landscapes celebrate earth heritage, promote geosciences education, discuss on geotourism perspectives and geoparks establishment, for the sustainable development of populations in Central Asia, and green societies.


The event focused on 2-day plenary discussions and thematic sessions. A field visit to Zhetysu geopark was organized. During the field trip, organized in Almaty region of Kazakhstan, the participants visited various geosites, as well as cultural and ethnographic monuments in the Zhetysu aspiring geopark, which the local authorities are promoting.


Following the conference, participants proposed to establish a working group of experts from Central Asia, to promote preservation of geological heritage and its promotion for geotourism and geoparks. . As the first task a creation of geological heritage atlas was identified as a priority, would serve as a basis for preservation on valuable sites and promotion for geotourism purposes. All participants agreed on the importance of networking and cooperation between existing UNESCO Global Geoparks, aspiring UNESCO Global Geoparks and geopark projects in Central Asia.


UNESCO, as the only agency in the UN system, promotes international cooperation in geosciences and promotes Global Geoparks as one of its designated sites. UNESCO Global Geoparks empower local communities and give them the opportunity to develop cohesive partnerships with the common goal of promoting the areas with significant geological processes, features, and all other aspects of natural, cultural and intangible heritage. There are still no geoparks in Central Asia, and UNESCO office in Almaty supports the countries to better understand the concept and build capacities of various stakeholders groups in establishing geoparks.

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