11.07.2012 - UNESCO Office in Venice

Memory and identity of historic waterways in a European perspective

©Museo della Navigazione Fluviale

Announced international meeting devoted to river navigation museums scheduled to take place in Venice and Battaglia Terme (Padua) on 12-13 October 2012, with the title “Memory, Identity, and Slow Tourism along the European Waterways”. The event - organized by the Centro Internazionale Civiltà dell’Acqua (Water Civilization International Centre), in co-operation with the UNESCO Venice Office and the Museum of River Navigation of Battaglia Terme - will be the moment for discussions on a possible new project and lasting partnership of institutions for the promotion of memory and identity of historic waterways in a European perspective.

The presence in many European countries of artificial waterways can be considered an evocative cultural, environmental and landscape heritage. Such a precious, historic heritage deserves today a renewed, coordinated commitment to its re-valuation, by considering both the structural hydraulic works (canals, bridges, locks, shipyards, mills, quays) and the historic artefacts in peril (traditional wooden boats). It is therefore necessary to develop new, more coordinated strategies to promote, on the one hand, the memory and identity of river navigation in a European perspective, linking the institutional activities and encouraging the exchange of experiences and, on the other, to develop new opportunities for a slow ecotourism along the European waterways, as a driver of sustainable development.

The meeting “Memory, Identity and Slow Tourism along the European Waterways. A European Network of Museums and Institutions aimed to promote the Heritage of River Navigation and to support Slow Tourism along Waterways and Historic Canals” will be structured around a public conference on the first day and a roundtable for experts on the second.

Among the main topics to be discussed during the roundtable are: the creation of a Network of River Navigation Museums (and/or related Institutions) aimed to re-evaluate the history of river navigation in a European perspective, as well as new forms of slow tourism and waterways’ ecological preservation; and, the elaboration of a common project funded by the European Commission, or funded by other sponsors. 

On the agenda, are also: the promotion of best practices of slow ecotourism along historic waterways; the development of joint strategies to improve the environmental quality of rivers and canals, as well as of the waterways’ hydraulic heritage in danger; the promotion of archival research projects to digitalize the most relevant documents related to the history of river navigation in Europe; and, the planning of joint publications in different languages to promote the waterways in a European perspective.

The main European Museums/Institutions involved in the promotion of the history of river navigation are being invited to bring their contribution to this international meeting.  

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