UNESCO has recently established a new UNESCO Chair on Water Heritage and Sustainable Development at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice.
The University has thus entered the long list of almost 800 Unesco Chairs (30 just in Italy), which - since 1992 - have involved a network of over 700 institutions in 116 countries, fostering cooperation and mutual exchange of knowledge on pivotal topics in the educational, scientific and cultural field.
The projects is aimed at providing policymakers with correct information, establishing new educational activities, generating innovation through research and promoting cultural diversity in University programs.
“This honorable recognition - explains professor Francesco Vallerani, geographer and promoter of the Chair - came after a tireless research activity dedicated to the knowledge and the management of Water Heritage, as well as the promotion of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
Moreover, the Chair represents a reward to the work of the geographers at Ca’ Foscari, coordinated by Vallerani and Eriberto Eulisse, director of the Unesco Global Network of Water Museums, endorsed by the International Hydrological Project (UNESCO-IHP) and the “Centro Internazionale Civiltà dell’Acqua” non-profit.
The main goal of the new UNESCO Chair at Ca’ Foscari is to strengthen and improve the educational initiatives on sustainable water management.
These activities will consist of lectures and courses aimed at training talented young students on topics such as sustainable development, ecohydrology, cultural geography, socioecology, visual anthropology, museology, digital humanities and tourism studies. More than one hundred people - half of them coming from countries in the Global South - will be able to take advantage of the educational activities that were planned for the 2020-2023 time period.
Scientists and research institutes from all over the world will collaborate with the new UNESCO chair. Among them, in the Netherlands, prof. Eddy Moors, rector of the IHE - Institute for Water Education in Delft, already a UNESCO center; in France, prof. Karl Matthias Wantzen, from the University of Tours, with the “Fleuves et Patrimoine” UNESCO Chair; in Portugal, prof. Luis Chicaro, who works at the University of Algarve, with the UNESCO Chair on “Eco-Hydrology, Water for Ecosystems and Society”; in Uruguay, prof. Javier Taks from the University of the Republic in Montevideo, with the “Agua y Cultura” UNESCO Chair. Further collaboration initiatives with other universities in China (Soochow and Hubei), India (Ahmedabad), Morocco (Marrakech), Canada (Laval) and Argentina (Santa Fe) are currently in the works
The innovative educational activities and interdisciplinary research within the new Ca’ Foscari Chair project will be focused on Water Heritage, both natural and cultural, tangible and intangible, with the aim of analyzing and promoting the insoluble ties with the Sustainable Development Goals.
The activity of the Chair will not only stimulate the sharing of new transdisciplinary approaches to research, but also the mutual exchange of best practices for water management, publications, exhibitions, workshops and seminars, as well as a staff exchange program between museums and research centers.
Finally, the Chair will also foster the creation of new water museum networks all over the worlds, paying special attention to developing countries, to implement shared approaches and face the global water crisis together.
“Nowadays, Water Museums are fundamental actors in teaching new behaviors and habits towards the most important element of life itself - concluded Vallerani - Every day they welcome thousands of visitors and they have the potential to pass down values and strategic knowledge to the next generations, for the future wellbeing of humanity"