2021 INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF CAVES AND KARST
8 December 2018
The International Union of Speleology (UIS) proposes enthusiastically for UNESCO to establish 2021 as the International Year of Caves and Karst. The UIS is a non-profit organization, headquartered in Slovenia, dedicated to the exploration, study, and proper management of caves through international cooperation. The UIS is comprised of 54 member nations, most of which have already committed to hosting at least one major national event to promote the International Year of Caves and Karst. Caves are one of the Earth’s greatest but least known natural resources. They provide water to millions of people, contain rare and important ecosystems, and preserve many of the world’s most important cultural and scientific sites. Karst is a special type of landscape and is best known for having caves. Karst covers about 20% of the planet and billions of people benefit from its resources and suffer from its challenges, like sudden collapse of the land. An International Year of Caves and Karst would teach the world how to best benefit from these natural resources, while avoiding their dangers, and would promote further research for better use and management of these critically important areas. Following this letter, this document is divided into three parts to give you the full information you need to understand the importance of caves and karst, and of the need for an International Year to support them: 1) Outline of the proposed major themes and activities; 2) Short descriptions of the proposed major themes and activities; 3) Preliminary proposal with the rationale for the International Year of Caves and Karst. Currently nine international organizations and 21 national organizations from 12 countries have shown their support for the International Year of Caves and Karst (see page 12 below). Items highlighted in yellow will be made final when the proposal is submitted. We respectfully ask for your support in getting UNESCO support, and in hosting activities for the International Year. Please contact me at the address above to learn more about how you can help.
George Veni, Ph.D. President Union Internationale de Spéléologie