International council backs geopark bid
The Black Country’s bid to become a world famous UNESCO Global Geopark has received international backing.
The UNESCO Global Geoparks Council recently announced following their meeting in Indonesia that it has recommended the Black Country UNESCO Global Geopark bid be endorsed by the Executive Board of UNESCO when it meets in the spring.
Although the recommendation is no guarantee, the team behind the bid sees this as an extremely positive step forward in its efforts to secure this international status.
It was back in 2016, when the four Black Country authorities (Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton) with the backing of the UNESCO National Commission and the UK’s seven existing geoparks submitted an application to become part of the UNESCO Global Geopark family.
There are many world-class features in the Black Country and the geopark would link many different heritage sites and features across the area to tell the story of the landscape. In the case of the Black Country, the significant part it played in the industrial revolution is at the heart of the bid and the proposed UNESCO Global Geopark.
In 2017, after assessing the application, the UNESCO Global Geoparks Committee (UGGC) made a number of positive recommendations and gave the Black Country Geopark project a further two years to address their recommendations before resubmitting a final application.
The final decision will be made by the Executive Board of UNESCO when it meets in the spring.
Councillor Ian Kettle, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, said:
Our bid is now in the hands of the UNESCO Executive Board and there’s a real sense we’re now on the brink of success.
This has been a lengthy process but one we are completely committed to as we truly believe we have what it takes to be part of the UNESCO Global Geopark family and put our fantastic geological heritage on the world map.
Securing UNESCO Global Geopark status will potentially open up significant opportunities for the Black Country in terms of access to international funding for local projects and boosting our visitor economy.
Councillor Yvonne Davies, chair of the Association of Black Country authorities, said:
If we are able to secure UNESCO Global Geopark status, it would be the biggest recognition the Black Country has ever had for the quality of its geological and cultural heritage.
Thanks to everyone who has worked so hard to get our application to this point. With the backing of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Council, we are confident we have addressed all the recommendations and all there is to do now is keep our fingers crossed for positive news in the spring.
Ninder Johal, board member of Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, said:
The recommendation from the UNESCO Global Geoparks Council is a positive step on our journey to securing Global Geopark status. From monuments to geological exposures and museums, the geosites that perform part of our shared bid tell the Black Country’s landscape story.
UNESCO Global Geopark status for the Black Country would help to secure our national and cultural heritage assets for future generations. I look forward to the final decision in spring next year.
To find out more about the project, people can go to www.blackcountrygeopark.org.uk, follow @BCgeopark on twitter or the Black Country Geopark Project on Facebook.