A new vision of liquid assets to protect water

Water becomes more and more the object of international discussion not only for the valorization of the good as such but for the protection of the liquid, material and immaterial heritage, essential for the life of all living beings. UNESCO is undertaking a series of projects aimed at strengthening liquid assets through a new vision of water that is able to combine culture, education and environmental sustainability. UNESCO’s International Hydrological Program (IHP) is the only UN-supported intergovernmental program dedicated to deepening, water research, water management, education and capacity building for water. From the beginning, in 1975, the IHP carried out an international hydrological protection and education action with the aim of improving the management and governance of water resources. Through an interdisciplinary approach dedicated to the management of water basins and to the protection of groundwater aquifers, a research methodology has been developed linked to both environmental and social and anthropological sciences. The goal is to stimulate an interdisciplinary debate. This vision finds its concreteness with the creation of the Global Network of Water Museums. Within the International Hydrological Program, Italy successfully proposed the creation, under the aegis of UNESCO, of the “Global Network of Water Museums”, a project that involves many museums and research centers in various parts of the world with a potential catchment of over five million users.
The initiative, born in 2017 thanks to the collaboration between Ca ‘Foscari University, the Water Civilization Center, the UNESCO Regional Office for Science and Culture in Europe in Venice and the permanent representation of Italy to UNESCO, has received the praise of numerous countries interested in developing a “water conscience” in line with the objectives of the new United Nations Development Agenda. The Water Museums represent the places where the richness and uniqueness of the invaluable “hydraulic” heritage of our countries is enhanced. This vision also begins to fascinate the Asian continent. The “Great Rivers” Forum (GRF) 2018, supported by UNESCO, which dealt with the relationship between man and water resource took place in China from 28 to 30 October. Forum participants stressed the need to start international networks with different representatives of academic disciplines to share data and research, educational strategies and inclusive governance mechanisms, the desired methodology for the future. Specifically, China is furrowed by over 5,000 rivers that stretch over more than 220,000 kilometers. More than 400 million people live along these basins and generate over 60% of the Asian giant’s GDP. The Blue River with its over 6,400 kilometers is the longest in Asia and the third in the world. The conference provided an operational agenda for a more sustainable management of rivers on a global scale but also placed at the center of future education actions a “new culture of water” through new actors: the Water Museums. It is no coincidence that the Forum took place precisely in the futuristic setting of the Museum of the Civilizations of the Blue River. In this scenario, the question of water management becomes a global issue, just as tourism is. The two phenomena can not be considered independent because there are different iniquities: high consumption of water in the tourist areas to the detriment of the lack of access to local communities; failure to protect water rights to be guaranteed to resident populations; waste and consumption disproportionate to the needs of the few, against millions and millions of people on Earth who do not have drinking water.
The idea is therefore to spread new interdisciplinary approaches that marry tourism, economy, sociology through the project of the Global Network of Water Museums that in Italy finds its manifestation in the Water Museum of Venice. From Italy to China, water therefore becomes a hot topic for the actuality and future of the human being.