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World’s first UNESCO Trail wins European sustainability award

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.




The full list of designations included in Scotland’s UNESCO Trail are:


Wester Ross Biosphere

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

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

A prehistoric landscape of outstanding natural beauty and a geological heritage which is among the most precious in the world.


Geopark Shetland

The geology of the Shetland Isles spans three billion years and is home to one of the most breathtaking and diverse landscapes in Europe.


The Forth Bridge

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

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 Old and New Towns of Edinburgh

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 Orkney

A collection of the best-preserved New Stone Age sites found in western Europe.


St Kilda

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.



New Lanark

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.


Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature

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 UNESCO City of Music

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 UNESCO City of Design

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.

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