The UNESCO-Greece Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes was created in 1995 to reward outstanding examples of action to safeguard and enhance the world’s cultural landscapes.
- The Prize, generously supported by the Government of Greece, bears the name of Melina Mercouri, former Minister of Culture of Greece and a strong advocate of integrated conservation.
- The US$30,000 Prize is awarded every two years to one laureate.
- The last Prize was awarded in November 2021, on the sidelines of the 41st session of UNESCO’s General Conference.
- Nominations for the 2023 edition were invited until 31 May 2023 and are no longer accepted.
Watch a presentation of the UNESCO-Greece Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes
The call for nominations was closed on 31 May 2023. The winner of the 2023 edition will participate in the award ceremony that will be held at UNESCO Headquarters on 16 November 2023 on the sidelines of the 42nd session of the General conference.
Selection Criteria and Process
Who may submit nominations for the Prize?
- A self-nomination cannot be considered
- Government agencies of UNESCO Member States, in consultation with their National Commissions for UNESCO;
- NGOs in official partnerships with UNESCO;
- International, regional and national professional, academic and non-governmental organizations active in the field of cultural landscapes.
Who is eligible?
Individuals, institutions, other entities, communities or non-governmental organizations (in official partnerships with UNESCO or not) that have made a significant contribution to the safeguarding, management and enhancement of the world’s major cultural landscapes.
How to apply?
Applications must be submitted only through the online application, accessible though the link below.
Introduction leaflet of the UNESCO-Greece Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes
Statutes of the UNESCO-Greece Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes
What is a Cultural Landscape?
Building on the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, cultural landscapes are defined as the combined works of nature and people and embody a long-lasting, profound and intimate relationship between people and their natural environment. Whether in urban or rural settings, they are all the fruits of diverse interactions between people and nature, and thus serve as a living testimony to the evolution of societies in relation to their habitat.
Cliff of Bandiagara, Mali (Land of the Dogons)
Pall Stefansson © OUR PLACE The World Heritage Collection
Some cultural landscapes are designed and created intentionally by humans (such as garden and parkland landscapes), while others evolve organically over time. In some cases, the evolutionary process is ‘fossilized‘ in material form (such as those found in prehistoric caves and rock shelters), while others continue to evolve and are still playing an active role in contemporary society (such as cultivated terraces). Some cultural landscapes are considered sacred, especially in places where people possess powerful cultural, religious and often ancestral associations with their natural environment.
Why are cultural landscapes important?
Cultural landscapes can provide various resources and services to the communities to which they are connected. This concretely enhances people’s well-being and livelihoods, and results in improved food security, access to clean water, construction and basic raw materials, medicinal plants as well as to employment opportunities.
They maintain a rich biological and agricultural diversity, notably through traditional forms of land use, which helps local residents in their efforts to adapt to climate change and mitigate disaster risks. This is done in part by using traditional knowledge and practices based on a deep understanding of our natural environment, which enhances community resilience.
In addition to the ecosystem services that cultural landscapes provide in practical terms to human life, they are also an asset for safeguarding and enhancing cultural diversity. By maintaining cultural and spiritual linkages with the natural environment and connecting past, present and future generations, cultural landscapes prove to be a resource for strengthening social cohesion.
Ritual Rice Field © Ministry of Education and Culture of Indonesia
What kind of challenges are they facing?
Cultural landscapes often face severe degradation due to unplanned infrastructure development, uncontrolled urbanization and poor planning, unsustainable modernization of land-use techniques or unsustainable forms of tourism or pollution. Furthermore, they are as a whole affected by the worsening climate crisis, which increases the risk of disasters.
Depopulation, ageing populations, and changing traditional lifestyles and knowledge systems also pose serious threats to the survival of cultural landscapes, which risk being abandoned and increasingly lacking people to manage them.