The Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads Photo Contest is organized as part of the UNESCO Silk Roads Programme, this photo contest aims to raise awareness among youth about the relevance of the shared heritage of the Silk Roads in modern times.
1st edition – 2018
The 1st edition took place from 11 April to 22 July 2018. In total 6,625 photos were submitted by young girls and boys from 100 countries along the Silk Roads. Photographers were invited to take photos that represent the Silk Roads heritage within the four major themes of Culture, Monuments, Landscape and People. The first edition benefited from the kind support and valuable advice of the renowned photographer and humanitarian Reza.
The award ceremony took place on 21 September 2018 in Beijing, China on International Day of Peace, in close collaboration with the contest partner, the China World Peace Foundation. A travelling exhibition ‘Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads’, presenting the 57 best photos was organised following this contest. It was exhibited for the first time as a side event during the award ceremony in Beijing. These photos were also displayed in various travelling exhibitions around the world (Oman, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Russian Federation, UNESCO HQ in Paris, and Turkey). This exhibition was also displayed at the venues of international conferences such as the ‘World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue’ in Baku, Azerbaijan on 2-3 May 2019, and the ‘Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations’ in Beijing on 15 May 2019.
2nd edition – 2019-2020
The 2nd edition of the contest, which launched in 2019 and closed in 2020, received 3,500 photos from 85 different countries. Here participants were invited to submit photographs which represented the shared heritage of the Silk Roads through three themes derived from the Thematic Collection and Interactive Atlas of Cultural Exchanges along the Silk Roads: ‘Gastronomy and Food Production,’ ‘Music and Dance,’ and ‘Traditional Sports and Games'.
Once again, the award ceremony took place in Beijing, China, on the 21st of September 2021 during the Peace Garden Peace Festival, as part of International Day of Peace. The event (on-site and online), which took place in collaboration with the photo contest’s partner the China World Peace Foundation, included a presentation of the winning photographs in the presence of the Selection Committee and featured video presentations from some of the winning young photographers.
3rd edition – 2021
The 3rd edition of the photo contest took place in May 2021 with the results announced in September 2021. For this edition, participants were invited to submit their photographs that best captured the shared heritage of the Silk Roads through the two parallel themes of ‘Textiles and Clothing,’ and ‘Intercultural Exchanges in the Time of Covid-19, including in the field of Textiles and Clothing’. This 3rd edition was launched at a time when many educational and cultural institutions were temporarily closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This contest in the middle of a worldwide pandemic provided an opportunity for young people to connect with one another in a digital space and share their creativity and vision for a post-pandemic world.
A collection of some of the best images from the 2nd and 3rd editions of the contest was exhibited at several events in various locations.
4th edition – 2022
The 4th edition of the photo contest took place from May to August 2022. For this edition, participants were invited to submit their photographs that best captured the shared heritage of the Silk Roads through the two themes of ‘Faith and Spiritualities’ derived from the Thematic Collection and Interactive Atlas of Cultural Exchanges along the Silk Roads, and ‘Living Together’.
In 2023, on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the UNESCO Silk Roads Programme, an exhibition was displayed outside UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, presenting 140 exceptional photographs from this contest, with the support of the photo contest’s partner, the Beijing International Peace Culture Foundation. This collection of photographs is an opportunity to celebrate the creativity of young photographers and artists living in or travelling along the Silk Roads.
Youth Lens on the Silk Roads Photo Album
Following each edition of the photo contest, a professionally printed photo album containing the best photos of the contest is published. This album aims to reflect the diversity of youth’s perspectives and impressions on the shared heritage of the Silk Roads.
Three previous editions of the photo album ‘Youth Lens on the Silk Roads’ can be found here.