UNESCO-Greece Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes
The award ceremony took place during the 40th General Conference at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
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 prize has been awarded 7 times between 1995 and 2019.
- The last Prize have been awarded in Autumn 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
What is a Cultural Landscape?
Cultural landscapes, defined as the combined works of nature and man, 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.
 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
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