Take advantage of the search to browse through the World Heritage Centre information.

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

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.
Watch a presentation 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.


Laureates

2023 edition

The Gunditjmara community was awarded the 2023 edition of the UNESCO-Greece Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes in recognition of its outstanding efforts to safeguard and manage the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape (Australia). UNESCO celebrated the laureate at an official award ceremony on the sidelines of the 42nd session of UNESCO’s General Conference, in the presence of Lina Mendoni, Minister of Culture and Sport of Greece, and Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO.

The Laureate The ceremony

2023 Ceremony © UNESCO

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.

Apply

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

EnglishFrench

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

EnglishFrench

Frequently Asked Questions

Government agencies of UNESCO Member States, in consultation with their National Commission 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. Please note that a self-nomination cannot be considered.

The Prize may be conferred upon individuals, institutions, other entities or non-governmental organizations that have made a significant contribution to the safeguarding, management and enhancement of the world's major cultural landscapes.

Applications must be submitted via the online application form available on Prize’s dedicated webpage. Submissions and materials received through any other mediums will not be considered.

The Prize recognises safeguarding efforts for all cultural landscapes, including, but not limited to, those inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List.

Letters of support are not part of the mandatory application documentation. However, letters of support from relevant entities are welcome, and you will have the possibility to attach such documents in the last part of the application form.

While there are no restrictions on how the awarded US$30,000 may be used, considering the overall objectives of the Prize, the laureate is encouraged to use this sum to strengthen its ongoing efforts to safeguard and manage cultural landscapes.

There is no limit to the number of applications nominated per country.


2030 Agenda

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 seeks to promote the importance of integrated conservation and sustainable management of cultural landscapes, as advocated by Melina Mercouri. Enhanced safeguarding and management of cultural landscapes can contribute significantly to sustainable development and thus to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

2.4
Ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices
6.6
Protect and restore water-related ecosystem
8.9
Protect and restore water-related ecosystem
11.4
Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world's cutltural and natural heritage
12.2
Achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources
13.1
Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters
14.2,14.7
Sustainably 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
16
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development

Partners

The initiative is supported on a global level by the generous contribution of the Permanent Delegation of Greece to UNESCO.


Contact us

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

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

Contact us

News 11
Other activities 1
top