Our new paper on using water-linked heritage as a vector of sustainable urban and regional development, building on the Interreg WaVE project case studies, has just been published in the Blue Papers.

Water and water-linked heritage play a very important role for many cities and regions. They are at the center of many places’ identities and key activities. Consider historic waterfronts and infrastructures such as bridges, port facilities, sluices, dams, water towers, mills and specific water-related landscapes, both in the city and in the countryside. Consider also intangible aspects of water-linked heritage, from traditional water management practices to values and local stories.

These all have the potential to galvanize the interests of diverse stakeholders and provide a foundation for an ecosystemic approach to sustainable urban and regional development. This is not only because of positive values associated with water, but also because water-linked heritage valorization can effectively connect environmental, economic and social dimensions of sustainability.

By working with water-linked heritage as a vector of the ecosystemic transformation of cities and regions, one can span multiple boundaries. First, doing so can attract a diverse set of stakeholders representing different disciplines and policy sectors, engaging them in place-making and the co-creation of transition strategies and tactical activities. Second, water allows for defining functional geographies and strategically linking diverse places connected by water bodies, cutting across administrative boundaries.

By drawing upon five international case studies involved in the Interreg WaVE project – Alicante, Aarhus, Breda, Ister-Granum and Ravenna – we have elaborated a typology to classify and compare different approaches to heritage valorization.

The paper was written by yours truly, Ana Maria Fernandez Maldonado, Kasia Piskorek and Wout van den Toorn Vrijthoff. Full article can be read here.

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