The world’s first UNESCO Trail that connects 13 unique sites across Scotland has received an international award in recognition of its contribution to sustainable development.
Scotland’s UNESCO Trail received the Santagata Foundation Award for UNESCO Territories 2022 at the RO.ME Museum Exhibition in Rome on November 16th.
The award recognises contribution to sustainable development projects within a UNESCO designated site or community.
Scotland’s UNESCO Trail, a dedicated digital trail, was launched last year to connect 13 place-based designations across the country, including World Heritage Sites, Biospheres, Global Geoparks and Creative Cities to form a dedicated digital trail.
The trail was designed specifically to support the ambitions of the national strategy to make Scotland a world-leading responsible tourism destination by encouraging visitors to stay longer, visit all year round, make sustainable travel choices, explore more widely and at the right time of the year, and in turn, contribute to the sustainable quality of life of those communities surrounding the designated sites.
Scotland’s UNESCO Trail also received the Wanderlust Sustainability Award at the Wanderlust Travel Awards in London on Tuesday 8th November. The award celebrates action and innovation for sustainable travel, with the trail receiving a Sustainability Initiative Gold Award in recognition of its responsible tourism principles.
Scotland is the first nation in the world to create such a pioneering initiative which was developed through a unique partnership between VisitScotland, the Scottish Government, the UK National Commission for UNESCO, Historic Environment Scotland, NatureScot, the National Trust for Scotland and Scotland’s 13 UNESCO designations.
“These awards recognise the Scottish Government’s mission to grow the value and enhance the benefits of sustainable tourism across Scotland as set out in our tourism Strategy Scotland 2030.
“The trail is helping visitors to discover Scotland’s fascinating UNESCO designated sites, while encouraging them to make responsible and sustainable choices through environmentally friendly travel and partnership with green accredited businesses.”
Ivan McKee, Tourism Minister
“This digital trail is the first to bring all Scotland’s wonderful designations together into a single space. The World Heritage Sites, of course, but also the Biosphere Reserves, Geoparks and Creative Cities: important for the visitor experience, but even more so for the 13 designations and their communities. Grounded and global – you don’t get more UNESCO than that – and I am delighted to see this recognised through the prestigious Santagata Foundation award!”
Laura Davies, UK Ambassador to UNESCO
“It is fantastic to receive this recognition for Scotland’s UNESCO Trail, in particular for the sustainable credentials of this project. The development of Scotland’s UNESCO Trail has been a great example of collaboration to create a unique visitor experience firmly rooted throughout with responsible tourism ethics.”
“Across Scotland, these UNESCO designations are local partnerships and communities that protect and promote their outstanding creativity, cultural heritage and the natural environment. By partaking in the Trail, visitors from around the world will rediscover Scotland’s unique treasures, know they are travelling sustainably, and contribute to the communities who maintain these precious places”.
Professor Anne Anderson, Non-Executive Director, UK National Commission for UNESCO
The full list of designations included in Scotland’s UNESCO Trail are:
Wester Ross Biosphere is not only one of the most beautiful places in Scotland, it is also home to a collection of rare and unspoiled habitats where wildlife, fauna and Highland communities co-exist to create an environment of unique natural beauty, history and culture.
Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Biosphere is renowned for its stunning landscape; a natural playground ripe with outdoor adventure and geological interest. It is also a place teeming with rare wildlife and a place where you can experience a rich cultural life and creative scene that is unique to the corner of south Scotland.
North West Highlands Geopark is a prehistoric landscape of outstanding natural beauty and a geological heritage which is among the most precious in the world.
The geology of the Shetland Isles spans three billion years and is home to one of the most breathtaking and diverse landscapes in Europe.
Spanning the Firth of Forth, the Forth Bridge stands as a seminal moment in the history of engineering and remains the world’s longest-ever cantilever bridge.
The Antonine Wall marked the final frontier of the Roman Empire in the north. This mighty fortification was built by Emperor Pius in 142 AD, one of the most ambitious constructions of the ancient world.
The beautiful architecture of Edinburgh shows an important development in city building. The medieval city of the Old Town underwent an expansion leading to the construction of the spacious Georgian New Town.
The Heart of Neolithic Orkneyis a collection of the best-preserved New Stone Age sites found in western Europe.
Home to a compact landscape of rare beauty and drama, the remote archipelago has been shaped over millions of years by powerful volcanic and glacial forces as well as two millennia of human habitation.
The purpose-built 18th-century mill village of New Lanark is the vision of philanthropist and social reformer Robert Owen. For over two centuries it would serve as a world-renowned blueprint for the ideal working and living environment for industrial labourers and their families.
Books and reading have been at the beating heart of Edinburgh’s rich cultural life for centuries. Edinburgh is the first city in the world to be named a UNESCO City of Literature.
Glasgow is home to one of the largest, most vibrant and accessible music scenes in the world. In 2008, it was named the first-ever UNESCO City of Music – its diverse culture, history and musical identity setting it apart from other cities.
Dundee was once best-known for its flourishing textile trade and shipbuilding industry. It continues to place innovation at its heart, emerging as a cutting-edge multidisciplinary design hub quite unlike any other.