Sunder Nursery in New Delhi, along with China&rsquos Lai Chi Wo Rural Cultural Landscape of Hong Kong SAR, have won the inaugural UNESCO Special Recognition for Sustainable Development.
In March 2020, when UNESCO invited entries for the 2020 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation, it launched this new category &lsquoto acknowledge more prominently the role and contribution of cultural heritage to sustainable development within the broader framework of Agenda 2030&rsquo.
The Sunder Nursery got the award for its transformative management of the historic premises adjoining Delhi&rsquos popular Humayun&rsquos Tomb. The 90-acre heritage, ecological and nursery zone, which was opened to the public in 2018, was renovated over a decade by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), in partnership with the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
According to the jury, they chose Sunder Nursery because of the &ldquotransformative impact in turning a barren site into an urban oasis in the heart of New Delhi&rdquo.
Said Shigeru Aoyagi, Director, UNESCO Bangkok, &ldquoAs you know, culture, nature and heritage are embedded across many of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. As the United Nation&rsquos only agency with a mandate for heritage, UNESCO advocates using heritage as a driver for sustainable development.&rdquo
The jury also appreciated the fact that the Sunder Nursery paid &ldquoequal attention to ecological restoration, thus underscoring the message that heritage conservation is beyond monuments and is only truly sustainable when essential linkages between nature and culture are profoundly understood and nurtured.&rdquo
The Sunder Nursery also received the Award For Excellence in this year&rsquos UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.
India aced in several other categories too.
Koothambalam at Guruvayoor Temple in Thrissur, Kerala, won the Award of Distinction while Award of Merits went to Amar Singh College in Srinagar and Malabari Hall Building of Seva Sadan Society in Mumbai.