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UNESCO-Greece Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes

Call for nominations now open

Deadline for submission:
31 May 2021

The nomination process takes place online through the UNESCO website. Online nominations in English or French should be sent to UNESCO by 31 May 2021 at the latest (midnight Paris time, UTC+1)

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 Any questions may be addressed to the Secretariat of the Prize
at the UNESCO World Heritage Centre
e-mail: melinamercouriprize@unesco.org

Overview and Background of the Prize

  • 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, a category of World Heritage.
  • The Prize, generously supported by the Greek Government, 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 2019, in connection with the 40th Session of the UNESCO General Conference.

UNESCO-Greece Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management
of Cultural Landscapes

Selection Criteria and Process

Who may submit nominations for the Prize?

  • Governmental agencies from UNESCO Member States, in consultation with their National Commissions for UNESCO;
  • NGOs that have official partnerships with UNESCO; and
  • International, regional and national professional, academic and non-governmental organizations active in the field of cultural landscapes. 

Who is eligible?

Individuals, site managers, institutions, other entities, communities or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that have made a significant contribution to the safeguarding, management and enhancement of the world’s major cultural landscapes.

How to apply?

Submit a nomination form online, in English or French, before 31 May 2021 (midnight Paris time) 


  • 1 February 2021
    (only tentative date pending the CL publication)
    Call for nominations for the 2021 Prize

  • 31 May 2021
    Deadline for submitting nominations.

  • November 2021
    Prize award ceremony at the UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, France

What is a Cultural Landscape?

Cultural landscapes, defined as the combined works of nature and man[1], embody a long and intimate relationship between people and their natural environment. Whether found in urban or rural settings, they are all the fruits of diverse human-nature interactions, and thus serve as a living testimony to the evolution of human societies.

Some cultural landscapes are designed and created intentionally by people (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 surroundings.

[1] Article 1 of the World Heritage Convention; Paragraph 47 of the Operational Guidelines for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention (2017 edition). See also Annex 3 for the three main categories of cultural landscapes, namely: (i) landscape designed and created intentionally by man, (ii) organically evolved landscape, and (iii) associative cultural landscape.

Why are cultural landscapes important?

Cultural landscapes can …

  • provide various resources and services that enhance the well-being and livelihoods of people, such as food, clean water, fuel, building and production materials, medicinal plants and job opportunities, including in the sustainable tourism sector;
  • enhance the resilience of communities by, for example, strengthening food security and social cohesion, and by helping them to adapt to climate change and mitigating disaster risks, notably through the use of traditional knowledge and practices built upon a deep understanding of the natural environment;
  • maintain rich biological, cultural and agricultural diversity, notably through the use of traditional forms of land use;
  • enhance cultural diversity by maintaining cultural and spiritual linkages with natural surroundings and by connecting past, present and future generations.

What kind of challenges are they facing?

  • Degradation due to unplanned infrastructure development and urbanization, modernization of land-use techniques, pollution, civil unrest or unsustainable tourism;
  • Abandonment or lack of people to manage landscapes, due to depopulation, aging of populations, and changes in traditional ways of life and knowledge systems;
  • Increasing disaster risks and the impact of climate change

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Cultural Landscapes contributing to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The UNESCO-Greece Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes strives to promote the importance of integrated conservation and sustainable management of cultural landscapes, as advocated by Melina Mercouri, which can contribute significantly to sustainable development and thus to the achievements of the goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Relevance of safeguarding and management of cultural landscapes to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices

Protect and restore water-related ecosystem

Protect and restore water-related ecosystem

Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world's cutltural and natural heritage

Achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources

Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards abd natural disasters

sutainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems

15.1, 15.2, 15.3, 15.4, 15.5
Ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services

Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable developement


Contact us

Secretariat of the UNESCO-Greece Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes

UNESCO World Heritage Centre
7 place de Fontenoy
75352 Paris 07 SP France
e-mail: melinamercouriprize@unesco.org 

Other activities (1)
States parties (1)