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UNESCO Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads Photo Contest for Young People, 2018

The International Photo Contest ”Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads”, taking place from 11 April  to 15 July 2018, is organized within the framework of UNESCO Silk Roads Project, UNESCO Youth Programme and the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022). This initiative, which benefits from the kind support and valuable advice of the renowned photographer and humanitarian, Reza, offers a good opportunity for young people from different regions of the world to visually capture their understanding and impressions of the Silk Roads common heritage in their respective countries.

Visual arts serve as the primary communication tool for today’s youth.  The power and importance of visual instruction in raising awareness for younger generations is paramount, especially concerning an understanding of key issues within the context of globalization. The Silk Roads is an expansive region, comprised of a network of maritime and land routes.  It originates in East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.  It then passes through the Central Asian sub-continent, the Russian steppe, the Iranian and Anatolian plateaus, and the Arabian Peninsula. It also stretches through North Africa and Northeast Africa, from Tanzania to Morocco.  Moreover, it goes through Eastern and Southern Europe, before reaching France and Spain. (Please see the map here.)  Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads Photo Contest provides an opportunity for youth living or travelling along the Silk Roads to more fully grasp their collective cultural heritage.  In addition, it offers youth a means of using photography to express unique perspectives about their Silk Roads common legacy and pluralistic identities.

Using photography in this way acts as a tool to highlight the significant historical contributions of the Silk Roads.  Most importantly, it fosters mutual understanding and promotes peace amongst these diverse populations.  The contest is divided into two age groups: 14-17 years old, and 18-25 years old.  Participants are invited to submit their photographs, which will then be examined by selected jury members.

The contest will culminate with an awards ceremony, with three winners being selected from each category. First place winners will receive a professional camera.   Second place winners will receive a semi-professional camera, and the prize for third place will be a standard-model digital camera.  In addition, winners will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the ceremony.  Those under 17 years of age may be accompanied by one other family member, courtesy of UNESCO.  A travelling exhibition of fifty photos which best represent the spirit of the contest will start its tour in UNESCO HQ in Paris, before travelling to other countries. To commemorate the occasion, these exceptional photographs will ultimately appear in a professionally bound collection of printed images.



The Silk Roads has played an essential role in linking different cultures. Rituals, art, music, craftwork, language, and gastronomy are all representative of intercultural interactions among diverse populations.


Monuments, archaeological sites, and architectural masterpieces are mirrors of the cultural interactions along the Silk Roads.  They provide evidence of the past by acting as tangible sources of learning and transmission of knowledge inherent to local communities.


Over centuries, landscape has provided the framework within which intercultural exchanges have occurred along the Silk Roads.  Even today, it continues to serve as an important focal point among diverse populations.


People built, maintained, and travelled long the Silk Roads exchanging goods and knowledge.  This was done by forging relationships with one another, beyond their territorial and generational boundaries.


The photography contest is open to everyone between 14 and 25 years old, regardless of his or her country of residence, except employees of UNESCO and the donor, China World Peace Foundation, and their family members (parents, children, siblings and spouses).

There will be two categories:

  • 14 to 17 years old
  • 18 to 25 years old

Application Form

1. Before officially entering the Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads Photo Contest, we encourage you to read our Rules and Themes sections to give you a clear idea of the desired visual elements to be included in your submissions.   

2. In order to participate, you should first create an account by completing the mandatory fields with the requested information. 

3. You will then be able to upload your photos to the contest’s website via your account. All participants will subsequently be divided into two age groups: 14-17 years old, and 18-25 years old.

All submitted information should be in English.

Contest Link

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