Workshop on UNESCO Global Geoparks in Africa
The Kenya National Commission for UNESCO together with Baringo County Government, Baringo Great Rift Valley aspiring Geopark and with support from UNESCO International Geoscience and Geoparks Programme Secretariat and the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network recently hosted the first Regional Geopark Capacity Building Workshop for Africa. UNESCO Global Geopark is a single or unified geographical area that comprise several geological sites of international value. These sites offer an extraordinary geological diversity, while also underpinning the region’s biological and cultural diversity. Geoparks serve local communities by combining the conservation of their unique geological heritage with outreach to the public and sustainable development.
Only two sites in Africa (Morocco and Tanzania) out of the 177 that have been designated across 46 UNESCO Member States. As part of the UNESCO Global Geopark Network, the purpose of this workshop was to promote uptake and increase representation of this Network in Africa. Kenya, and Baringo Great Rift Valley aspiring Geopark was honoured to host a Regional workshop.
The 3-day first capacity-building workshop held from 13th to 15th December 2022 at the Rift Valley Hills Resort, Kabarnet, brought together 125 participants drawn from 13 Africa countries and four facilitators from Europe. It consisted of lectures, case studies and a field excursion, which aimed to enhance the knowledge of participants in mapping and nominating geoparks in Africa. The participants included representatives of National Commissions for UNESCO in Africa, geologists, academicians, geopark experts, government officials and UNESCO staff. The role of National Commissions in promoting the uptake of this new UNESCO International Designation was emphasised.
Additionally, the workshop provided an opportunity to get guidance on best practices in geoheritage mapping, nomination and promotion of the UNESCO Global Geoparks concept as a tool for sustainable development in Africa. It provided a platform to raise awareness on the importance of geological heritage and the need to connect it with natural, cultural, and intangible heritage. The gathering provided a good platform to engage government officials and other stakeholder to protect and conserve geological heritage via national programmes and to develop UNESCO Geopark projects in their country. This workshop was also consistent with the UNESCO Global Geopark Network plan for networking and sharing best practices, experiences, challenges and opportunities in management of geoparks. The regional workshop and the interaction with experts offered Kenya an opportunity to reflect and further review our preparedness in view of the ongoing nomination process of the Baringo Great Rift Valley Geopark to join UNESCO Global Geopark Network.
The workshop was officially opened by Hon. Peninah Malonza, Cabinet Secretary for Wildlife, Tourism and Heritage, Republic of Kenya. KNATCOM Secretary General, Dr. Evangeline Njoka, CBS graced the opening ceremony together with local leaders including Hon. H.E. Benjamin Cheboi, Governor, Baringo County Government, local Members of Parliament, Senators, Members of Senate Committees and Deputy Speaker of the Senate among other leaders.