03.05.2017 - UNESCO Office in Venice

Water: precious and irreplaceable source of life! Towards a Global Network of Water Museums

Towards a Global Network of Water Museums – A Common Heritage for a Sustainable Future

The International Workshop, “Towards a Global Network of Water Museums: A Common Heritage for a Sustainable Future”, is taking place in Venice through 4 May 2017 with the aim to strengthen existing Water Museums at a global level. The workshop also expects to facilitate the establishment of a formal network among them and to increase their communication potential and impact on policy-makers, stakeholders, researchers, educators, and the public at-large.

Despite unprecedented technological progress - or perhaps, rather, because of this - water today is increasingly imperiled by climate change, pollution, waste, quality degradation, and even indifference. Within such a context, the Global Network of Water Museums is an initiative addressed to authorities and citizens who believe wholeheartedly in preserving water - whether surface or underground - together with its cultural and historical dimensions, which still evocatively narrate the special and unique relationship of humanity with this most precious source of life. The need to reinterpret our inherited and multiple “water worlds” is extremely challenging. The creation of a Global Network of Water Museums could give a valuable impetus to the emergence of new perspectives concerning water sustainability, connecting past and present water uses and management practices with future needs; that is, paving the way for a paradigm change in water management, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

The workshop in Venice which will last 3 days is organised jointly by the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) and the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Venice, in cooperation with Civiltà dell'Acqua, with the participation of Water Museum of Venice; the event has also been endorsed by the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and The Club of Rome.

On 2 May, the workshop opened most successfully with the participation of the Water Tribunal of Valencia with a public reading of the preamble in 5 languages of the Global Network of Water Museums declaration. The water judges dressed in their black robes on an exceptional basis, as they almost never wear them out of their weekly public audiences before the Apostles' Gate of the Valencia Cathedral. They agreed to wear them on this occasion because they are fully cognizant that their black robes have also become a symbol for traditional irrigators worldwide, in coherence with the significance of the Water Tribunal of Valencia being inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity since 2009. 

The workshop will be revolving around 3 main issues, moving from a description of their possible basic contribution to the network (in terms of communication and educational potential) towards a discussion and further elaboration of ideas on how to build the network among the participating Water Museums and, finally, on which activities could be jointly promoted in the near future. As a source of inspiration for such elaborations, the participants will take advantage of being in Venice to explore the new itineraries of the Water Museum of Venice via field visits.

The Venice workshop will facilitate an exchange of experiences and good practices among water museums having common features and/or issues to address such as water resources management for civil, industrial and agricultural uses, climate change, education, etc. Skills, management abilities and knowledge of Water Museums will be similarly strengthened with a view to enhancing their managerial and communication capacities and addressing the current emerging challenges for more sustainable water uses. The ground will be laid for possible common actions, exhibitions and projects dealing in particular with the promotion of new models for more sustainable water uses inspired by good practices by water civilizations. All this will be a contribution to the establishment of a Global Network of Water Museums under the auspices of UNESCO IHP. Participants will discuss possible ways to formalize such a commitment and to provide the network with the necessary coordinating mechanism and tools, particularly through a worldwide online platform.




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