The identification of opportunities for the development of Geoparks in the Pacific region was the main focus of a preliminary feasibility assessment conducted at four selected sites in Fiji, Samoa, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Through a new partnership between the UNESCO Pacific Office, The Pacific Community and the Pacific Tourism Organisation, the assessment is an entry point for long term efforts to introduce and set up Geoparks in the Pacific region. Such initiatives are crucial in providing diversified and educational experiences for visitors and locals alike.
Stakeholder and partner consultations were carried out as part of the process with site assessments completed in Samoa and Vanuatu. Key findings from the assessment were presented at a recent webinar convened by UNESCO for Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS). National and regional geology experts, academia, nature conservation experts and park managers, representatives of the tourism industry and other interested stakeholders were amongst the targeted audience. The webinar underscored the significant role of Governments for the success of such initiatives in protecting and promoting heritage, connecting nature, people and culture. Mr. Gary Lee, Geotechnical Adviser at SPC represented the project at the webinar.
The Preliminary Feasibility Assessment Report compiled by SPTO and Savvy Vanuatu with the technical input of SPC, UNESCO, tourism and geology stakeholders in the four countries, can be accessed here.
It is envisaged that a comprehensive assessment will be conducted in the coming year where an in-depth demand analysis and wider stakeholder consultations will be rolled out. There are currently 169 UNESCO Geoparks in the world from 44 countries, none of which is from the Pacific Islands.