Project led by Carola Hein as part of a collaboration among the LDE UNESCO Chair Water, Ports and Historic Cities, ICOMOS Nederland/ISC and other institutions interested in water management, culture and heritage.
Water in all its forms is key to human survival and well-being. People have embedded their relation with water in spatial, social and cultural practices for ten thousands of years, creating intricate and ingenious solutions that allow them to survive and thrive in difficult and complex territories, adapting to changes in environmental conditions, or to technological, political, economic, or other changes. Understanding the embedded nature of water in space, society and culture, constructing individual and collective identities, can help activate historic systems and heritage as part of sustainable development. As the UNESCO World Heritage Center emphasized in its 2030 Culture Indicators, culture has important contributions to make to the different Goals and Targets of the 2030 United Nation’s Agenda. Currently, complex water-related urgencies that challenge human life on earth, are often seen as stand-alone occurrences that require individual solutions. However, complex crises like sea-level rise, changing rainwater patterns, and consequent flooding and drought require complex approaches. Within these approaches, technological or economic solutions can engage local conditions, historical, social or cultural contexts and knowledge, and help (re)create structures for valuing water. This requires an advanced engagement with the social and cultural value of water, by creating a new embedded water awareness 2.0.