WWF7: Icomos recommends water heritage as inspiration for today's water management
“We are better capable of improving today’s water management if we understand what happened in the past. That is why it is so important to preserve our water heritage”, Henk van Schaik said at the 7th World Water Forum in Daegu, Korea.
Henk van Schaik (top photo middle) is one of the authors of the book Water & Heritage that was launched at the World Water Forum. The book was presented to Dutch water envoy Henk Ovink (right) on 13 April.
Together with Diederik Six (left), president of International council on monuments and sites (Icomos) Netherlands, Van Schaik visited the forum in Korea to bring global attention to the preservation of the iconic historical water locations.The qanat undergound irrigation technology has been developed in Persia sometime in the early 1st millennium BC.
Source of inspiration
"It is becoming clear that progress and development caused loss of cultural heritage", Henk van Schaik said in Daegu on the occasion of the book launch. "In this time of uncertainty, we need heritage as an important contribution to a sustainable future."
According to Van Schaik a better understanding of place and historical continuity is therefore key. He believes that harmony between water and heritage management can improve spatial quality.
Iconic examples of water heritage
“There are many examples of inspiring old water locations, especially concerning irrigation“, said Van Schaik on the occasion of the book launch. His book mentions qanats and water wheels in the Middle East and the water mills in the Dutch polders.
"With this book we want to raise awareness for heritage to help us better understand the dynamic relation between societies, water management and governance. Our water heritage holds valuable examples of successful strategies to deal with uncertainties and cope with water hazards."The book also includes stories on the protection of today's cultural heritage sites against future climate change, by restoring old water systems.
Part of sustainable development goals
President Diederik Six, of Icomos Netherlands, noted that the cultural heritage is not explicitly mentioned in the post-2015 Sustainable development goals that are to be adopted by the United Nations in September. “Only the importance of nature heritage is mentioned. Therefore we support the initiative by the World Water Council and the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage for a World Water Heritage programme."
Icomos and Unesco jointly organized a session at the World Water Forum on the subject of water heritage. During the session the World Water Heritage Programme was debated. It was suggested to support the inclusion of cultural heritage as one of the pilars of sustainable development goal nr.4.
The book Water & Hertiage is published by Sidestone Press. It costs 49,95 euro and can be ordered online from Sidestone Press.
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● Special website on Dutch participation at WWF7: www.wwf7.dutchwatersector.com
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Video on how water heritage can help to protect river delta areas by better understanding the water system.