News from the Geopark

English Riviera welcomes the world for Unesco Global Geopark conference

4 Oct 2016

HUNDREDS of delegates from all around the world have converged on Torbay for one of the most important conferences ever held locally this week.

The International Conference on Unesco Global Geoparks has attracted more than 700 delegates from 120 global geoparks from 63 different countries to Torquay.

It is the first ever international Geopark conference under the Unesco banner, attended by senior Unesco officials, scientists, policy makers and government representatives from all over the globe.

It has been estimated the conference, which runs until Friday, will inject £1.6million into the English Riviera's economy, boosting both the tourism industry and putting the resort firmly on the international geology map.


Delegates at the opening ceremony at the Riviera International Conference Centre were moved by a powerful performance by more than 100 local people who celebrated geology with music and dance which illustrated the Geoparks and all humanity is 'connected by rocks' through their shared history.

The Earth Echoes performance was led by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra who joined children from Cockington Primary School, Torquay Boys' Grammar School, Curledge Street Academy in Paignton, Torbay Brass Band, Coombeshead Academy, Newton Abbot, and students from South Devon College, Exeter University, and volunteers from Lupton House at Churston.

The stunning show highlighted how humanity has failed to learn the lessons of the past and is now threatening the future of the planet.

Sixty local volunteers are acting as 'conference ambassadors' to help delegates.

Nick Powe, director of Kents Cavern and chairman of the conference board, explained the conference was about far more than rocks.

"Geoparks are an overarching designation which is a catalyst for uniting tourism, education, science, community involvement, health, culture and well-being and above all outstanding geological heritage with one common purpose, to benefit the local area."

He said Geopark status would be seen as a badge of quality in the same way as the Unesco World Heritage site designation.

"We have spent so long trying to promote the Bay to a wider audience, to have this badge of quality gives us the opportunity to promote the English Riviera to the world. Geoparks are a grass roots initiative about local people wanting to make a difference and conserve and enhance areas to the benefit of local people," he added.

Mayor Gordon Oliver said the English Riviera was very proud to be hosting the first International Geopark conference with the Unesco designation.

He said there was a true spirit of international friendship and understanding between geoparks.

"You are an inspiration which has no bounds," he told delegates.

A special exhibition at the conference centre is open to the public between 2pm and 5pm on Wednesday with countries such as China, Indonesia and Denmark showcasing their geoparks.

There is also an open street party on Princess Promenade, Torquay, tonight between 6pm and 10pm.

Read more at http://www.torquayheraldexpress.co.uk/bay-welcomes-the-world-as-geopark-delegates-arrive/story-29755192-detail/story.html#comments#iwHX0yk9oryC4EJX.99