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Jakarta Post

UNESCO postpones Toba Caldera Geopark status announcement due to COVID-19 outbreak

  • Apriadi Gunawan

    The Jakarta Post

Medan   /   Wed, March 18, 2020   /   04:34 pm
UNESCO postpones Toba Caldera Geopark status announcement due to COVID-19 outbreak A fisherman at Lake Toba, North Sumatra, Indonesia (Shutterstock/DH Saragih)

UNESCO has postponed its announcement of Toba Caldera Geopark in North Sumatra as a member of its Global Geoparks, as the United Nations cultural body postponed its 209th plenary session in Paris, which was to take place in April.

Toba Caldera Geopark general manager Wan Hidayati confirmed the announcement postponement, saying she had received an email from Kristof Vandenberghe of UNESCO’s International Geoscience and Geoparks Program.

"The announcement of the Toba Caldera Geopark as a member of the UNESCO Global Geopark should have been delivered at the UNESCO plenary session next month. However, the plenary session was postponed to anticipate the spread of COVID-19,” Wan told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

As of Wednesday, there were 7,695 COVID-19 positive cases in France, 148 of which have died of the disease, according to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

Read also: Indonesia eyes UNESCO recognition for Belitung, Toba Caldera geoparks

While the plenary session was postponed until further notice, Wan added that the plan to hand over the UNESCO Global Geopark placard to Toba Caldera Geopark management was still scheduled to take place in Jeju, South Korea in September.

She hoped the placard handover would not be delayed too, as North Sumatra communities had been waiting for it. The establishment of the Global Geopark status was believed to increase foreign tourist visits and boost Lake Toba tourism. 

"We have been waiting for this geopark to be part of UNESCO Global Geopark for nine years, since we first proposed it to the UN in 2011. This has been a long wait,” Wan said.

The geopark, which includes Lake Toba, is one of the largest volcanic lakes in the world.

There are 147 sites in 41 countries in the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network, according to the organization’s official website. Four out of 15 national geoparks in Indonesia have been designated under the network as of 2018. (aly)