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Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads International Photo Contest

The visual arts, and in particular photography, are increasingly being used by today’s youth as a powerful tool for communication and self-expression. As such, they have the potential to play a significant role in raising awareness of the key issues facing our contemporary globalizing world. The annual Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads International Photo Contest offers an exciting opportunity for young people from all over the world to capture their understanding of the common heritage of the Silk Roads through the lens of their camera.

The Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads Photo Contest is an opportunity for young people living or travelling within these regions to share their perceptions and further their understanding of the common cultural heritage and pluralistic identities emerging from the interactions and exchanges taking place along the Silk Roads. The contest encourages the use of photography to extend these cultural interactions and encounters in the contemporary world, to foster mutual understanding and promote peace amongst the diverse populations encompassed by the Silk Roads.

The contest is divided into two age categories: 14-17-year-olds, and 18-25-year-olds. Participants are invited to submit photographs that best encapsulate the shared heritage of the Silk Roads through one or more of the three themes of Gastronomy and Food Production, Traditional Sports and Games, and Music and Dance. The Selection Committee members will then examine these submissions and select the winners from each of the age categories. Examples of some of the very best photographs from the 2018 contest can be found here.

The contest will culminate with an award ceremony, with three winners selected from each age 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 award ceremony. Those under 17 years of age may be accompanied by one family member, courtesy of UNESCO.

A travelling exhibition of around fifty photos that best represent the spirit of the contest will be exhibited in various places around the world. To commemorate the occasion, these exceptional photographs will ultimately appear in a professionally bound photo album.



Ingredients, cooking, serving techniques and eating together form the foundations of the cultural identity and continuity of communities across the Silk Roads. Gastronomy provides the focus for important moments of social exchange and communication, offering an affirmation and renewal of family, group or community identity. Many tangible and intangible elements have been exchanged in the field of gastronomy and food production between the different regions and cultures along the Silk Roads. From tea, coffee or other beverages to ingredients such as spices, grains and rice, pasta and noodles, dairies, barbecue, bread, recipes and dishes. More importantly, within the social occasions and rituals surrounding the preservation and consumption of these specific foods and dishes, there have been many elements of cultural exchange between different people along the Silk Roads. Today these exchanges have resulted in shared gastronomic heritages with many similarities amongst the food traditions of the regions along the historic Silk Roads. 

The Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads Photo Contest presents an opportunity for participants to share their images of these common gastronomic traditions and rituals as an integral part of our daily lives along the Silk Roads.


Music is both an emblematic representation of different cultures, as well as an agent that promotes universal shared experiences and open dialogue. Different forms of music, as well as the various instruments used to create it, spread far beyond their various regions of origin accompanying people wherever they moved and traded along the Silk Roads. As such, the passage of different musical instruments as well as their accompanying musical traditions throughout the many important cities between Far East Asia, through the Indian Subcontinent, Central Asia and into Africa and Europe was one of the key elements of cultural exchange taking place. These exchanges occurred at different levels and included not only instruments but also melodic and rhythmic systems, tunes, secular and ritual dances as well as the oral epics shared along the Silk Roads.

The Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads Photo Contest is a special occasion for young photographers to capture the value and vibrancy of the different musical traditions that have spread and been shared among different cultures and people along the Silk Roads today.


Traditional sports and games are outstanding elements of the cultural identities of different people living along the Silk Roads. The interactions and reencounters that have been taking place for thousands of years along the Silk Roads provided considerable opportunities not only for the spread of traditional sports and games throughout different regions but also for their enrichment at different levels. These activities, which have always been part of the diversity of universal heritage, can be practised in an individual or collective manner and derive from regional or local identity. Various forms of wrestling or martial arts, horseback riding competitions such as polo and archery, cognitive games such as go, chess and backgammon, as well as children’s games are all examples of different traditional sports and games that have existed along the Silk Roads for hundreds of years.

Moreover, traditional sports and games have been the basis for the promotion of ethical values such as self-control, or modesty. They have also been efficient means of strengthening social cohesion through advocating for mutual respect, cooperation and conflict prevention. As such, they provide an excellent opportunity to bring people together, to reinforce tolerance and promote the value of interactions between the people living along the Silk Roads.

Today, traditional Sports and games are not only concrete elements of the shared heritage of the people of different regions along the Silk Roads but also provide a solid basis for continual reencounters and exchanges in the modern era.

Participants of the Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads Photo Contest are encouraged to introduce components of traditional sports and games into their own unique perspective and creativity and to capture the traditional sports and games that are shared between at least two or more regions and cultures along the Silk Roads.



UNESCO, through its Headquarters in Paris, France (hereinafter "the Organizer"), is organizing a free-of-charge photography contest called Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads, with the theme "Reveal the Silk Roads", (through Gastronomy and Food Production, Music and Dance, and Traditional Sports and Games), only on the Internet, under the terms and conditions defined below.

Dates: from 19 September 2019 to 6 January 2020.

The announcement of this photography contest will be made on the Organizer’s websites (in particular on https://en.unesco.org/silkroad and social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest), as well as on its partners’ websites and social media.


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

To participate, minors must provide written permission from their legal guardian(s):

"I, the undersigned Mr/Ms “full name” legal representative of “full name”, authorize him/her to participate in the photography contest "Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads" which runs from 19 September 2019 to 6 January 2020. I read and agreed with the terms of rules

Signed "City", the "Date" Signature

No minors’ participation will be accepted by the Organization without their written permission.

To confirm participation, each participant will have to follow the following instructions outlined below before 6 January 2020, 23h59m59s, (GMT+1 h):

  • Go to the Participation page

  • Upload a maximum of 20 photographs:

  • Include a caption for each photograph or series of photographs, in digital format (JPEG or JPG)

  • The quality of the photographs must be at least 1,500 pixels wide for horizontal images and 1,500 pixels tall for vertical images. (See Article 3).

  • To participate, entrants must have access to the Internet.

  • Participation is strictly personal and the entrant cannot enter the contest on behalf of another person.

Participation in the photography contest implies full acceptance of these rules and all of their provisions. Non-compliance with the rules will result in disqualification of the entrant.


3.1. Content of photos

  • The photographs must represent the theme "Reveal the Silk Roads" through Gastronomy and Food Production, Music and Dance, and Traditional Sports and Games.

  • Only minor modifications to the photographs will be accepted (e.g. dodging and burning, aperture, cropping, colour balance) and must be clearly indicated in the image’s description.

  • Each photograph must not contain any personal information that identifies the photographer.

  • All participants must be able to provide a high-resolution image that, if selected, can be printed on different media for exhibitions.

  • The Organizer reserves the right to remove any photograph that does not meet the criteria.

3.2. Intellectual property rights

  • Each participant in the photography contest certifies that he or she is the sole copyright holder of all submitted photographs and they are original to him/her.

  • The participant has full power to authorize the use of the photographs.

  • Each participant in the photography contest certifies that all submitted photographs do not violate or infringe on any existing copyright or any other third party rights and contain nothing otherwise unlawful.

By submitting a photo to the Organizer, the entrant in the photo contest authorizes its release (as well as the photographers full name, pseudonym, city and country of residence), in the framework of the photo contest and its promotion, on the website of the Organizer and those of its partners, as well as social networks (including Facebook and Twitter), on digital communication or media (newspapers, postcards, catalogs, books, posters, exhibitions, videos), without any form of compensation. Any other use of the photographs will be reported to the author, who is free to give or refuse consent for their use. The photos will not be used for commercial purposes (sales to third parties) by the Organizer unless authorized by the author.

3.3. Respect of privacy, image rights and good moral standards

No visual elements of another party (affecting privacy or image rights) may appear in the images. If the photographs show people, participants must obtain permission from them.

Photographs must not contain elements that are defamatory, offensive, pornographic, racist, insulting, unlawful or contrary to good morals.


4.1. Selection criteria

Photographs will be selected on their originality, creativity, photographic quality and relevance to the themes of the 2019 "Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads" Photo Contest. The choice will be made according to the discretion of the Selection Committee. No appeals will be considered.

4.2. Awards

1st, 2nd and 3rd Awards.

In each age category, three photographs will be awarded by the international members of the Selection Committee. It is composed of six international personalities who are recognized for their artistic work and designated by the UNESCO. Subsequently, the Selection Committee is composed of five members with a chairman, as well as a representative of the UNESCO Director-General.

Article 5: AWARDS

1st Award: A professional digital single-lens reflex camera equipped with 18-55mm lens

2nd Award: Semi-professional digital camera

3rd Award: Digital camera

In the case of tied votes, the chairman of the Selection Committee will select the winner.



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