Greek Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni presented the prestigious 2023 UNESCO-Greece Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes to the Australian community of Gunditjmara, also known as Dhauwurd Wurrung, last Friday.
Residing in south-west Victoria, within the Budj Bim heritage areas, the Gunditjmara people have been recognized for their exceptional efforts in the preservation and management of cultural landscapes.
Created in 1995, the UNESCO-Greece Melina Mercouri International Prize is a biennial prize that celebrates remarkable initiatives in the safeguarding and enhancement of global cultural landscapes. Named in honor of the famous Greek Minister of Culture and actress Melina Mercouri, the award comes with a prestigious reward of US$30,000.
The Budj Bim Cultural Landscape, a significant part of the Gunditjmara territory spanning approximately 7,000 km2, including its aquaculture systems, was awarded a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2019. The selection committee hailed the Budj Bim cultural landscape as an “outstanding example of human interaction with the environment” whose history spans more than 6,000 years. Complex networks of aquaculture systems and traditional land and water management practices showcase engineering skills passed down through generations.
During the award ceremony at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, Minister Mendoni highlighted the importance of adopting integrated sustainable management plans.
“The award pays tribute to the distinguished and internationally renowned cultural and political personality, Melina Mercouri, who fought fiercely for the protection, restoration and integrity of cultural heritage and cultural landscapes,” said the Minister Mendoni.
“And it does this by bringing to the forefront of international attention brilliant examples of effective management of cultural landscapes around the world, but also by honoring people who excel in providing ideas and inspiration that can serve as examples. »
She highlighted the need for a holistic and integrated approach to ensure the integrity and authenticity of cultural and natural landscapes. Mendoni also referred to a collaborative initiative between the United Nations, UNESCO and the Greek government to address the impact of climate change on cultural and natural heritage – a step aligned with Greece’s national strategy for protect cultural heritage from the effects of climate change.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all participants and countries who responded enthusiastically to the call for applications for the UNESCO-Greece Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Protection and Management of Cultural Landscapes. Most importantly, I would like to express my congratulations to the winner of the 2023 prize, the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape in Australia, which was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2019. May this prize be the foundation stone of further successes in the future.
Thank you for your attention,” added Lina Mendoni.