The 2019 UNESCO-Greece Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes, was awarded on 18 November to Instituto do Património Cultural in Cabo Verde, for its outstanding contribution to the safeguarding, management and sustainable development of the Natural Park of Cova, Paul and Ribeira da Torre.
The award ceremony took place at UNESCO Headquarters in the presence of the Minister of Culture and Sport of Greece, Styliani Mendoni, and the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay.
Funded by the Government of Greece and named after the late Greek actress and former Culture Minister Melina Mercouri, the prize rewards an individual, institution or non-governmental organisation for outstanding efforts to protect and manage cultural landscapes, i.e. sites that embody an enduring, intimate relationship between people and their environment.
Hamilton Jair M. L. Fernandes, President of the Instituto do Património Cultural in Cabo Verde, accepted the award, declaring that “for us it is a priority to implement actions to improve the living conditions of communities, to fully protect the cultural and natural ecosystem and sustainably ensure the enjoyment of those who visit this beautiful landscape. With this award we intend to elaborate a Management Plan, create a center for landscape interpretation, train young tourist guides and promote female entrepreneurship.”
The Natural Park of Cova, Paul and Ribeira da Torre is an emblematic example of Cabo Verde’s mountain wetlands and one of its most important agricultural ecosystems. The Park is dominated by a volcanic crater (Cova), forest areas, steep peaks, deep valleys and cliffs overlooking the sea. Over time, people found ingenious ways to adapt to this particular landscape creating a network of local roads and paths, as well as soil conservation and irrigation infrastructure. The management of the natural park has been guided by the commitment and involvement of the park’s inhabitants, ensuring the sustainable use of resources, and the local community is a key partner for the Instituto do Património Cultural in monitoring and fighting fires that periodically break out in the park.
Awarded every two years, the $30,000 UNESCO-Greece Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes supports the safeguarding of cultural landscapes in the face of numerous threats, such as unplanned infrastructure development and urbanisation; a lack of people to manage landscapes, due to depopulation and changes in traditional ways of life; and increasing disaster risks and the effects of climate change.