Water, Heritage and Sustainable Development

Water museum Biesbosch MuseumEiland [NLD], Werkendam, Biesbosch National Par, Delta of the Rein river, Netherlands.

The Chair “Water, Heritage, and Sustainable Development” established at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice is active within the Programme UNITWIN/UNESCO, which promotes inter-university cooperation and networking to enhance institutional capacities through knowledge sharing and collaborative work.


The UNESCO Chair: “Water, Heritage and Sustainable Development” was established at Ca' Foscari University of Venice in 2021. The Chair is housed at THE NEW INSTITUTE Center for Enviromental Humanities, which is located in Venice at Ca’ Bottacin.

The UNESCO Chair aims at building new teaching initiatives on water education, generating innovation through research, and promoting cultural diversity. The Chair is active as a think tank and bridge builder between academia, water museums, civil society, local communities, and policy-making.

By connecting cultural geography and the environmental humanities to water sciences and the Sustainable Development Goals of the Agenda 2030, the Chair is active in identifying and supporting new interdisciplinary approaches to develop digital materials for education and training on water and sustainability.

The general objective of the UNESCO Chair is to respond to training needs of water museums and institutional members of the Global Network of Water Museums. Museums manage worldwide an outstanding water heritage, both cultural and natural, and today there is an urgent need to strengthen and link their agendas on water education to the SDGs and to the UNESCO-IHP Resolution n.5 (XXIII) titled  “Global Network of Water Museums and UNESCO-IHP in support of water sustainability education and water awareness efforts”. 

The training courses organized by the UNESCO Chair are addressed to the staff of water museums, scholars and professionals in the field of water, and indirectly also to museums’ target audiences and people of all age groups to promote more sustainable water uses globally.


Identify and foster new interdisciplinary approaches for connecting natural and human sciences to water heritage (both natural and cultural, tangible and intangible) and generating innovation through research

Address capacity building needs and training gaps of water museums world wide, with specific reference to the members of the Global Network of Water Museums (WAMU-NET), and promote cultural diversity

Focus the attention and interest of all water museums and WAMU-NET members towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with reference to any kind of water-related heritage, including ‘minor’ heritage, water values, and other intangible aspects

Foster cooperation with other high-level research centers and international organizations, including UNESCO Chairs and Centres, to ensure that the international community of water museums has a stronger role in the present debate on water sustainability education

Training courses

The UNESCO Chair “Water, Heritage and Sustainable Development” organizes, in cooperation with the Global Network of Water Museums and Civiltà dell’Acqua International Centre, four training courses for the period 2021-2024.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the 1st course of the series is made through a number of webinars addressed to the staff of water museums, scholars and professionals in the fields of water.

Water, Culture, and Society  
Between Ancestral Practices and Freshwater Multifunctionality

The second series of lectures and webinars organized by the UNESCO Chair on ‘Water, Heritage, and Sustainable Development’ and THE NEW INSTITUTE Centre for Envrironmental Humanities (NICHE) at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice will be held in presence and online from 29 September to 6 December 2022. Among the different scholars and practitioners invited for this year’s series, the pioneering water anthropologist Veronica Strang (Durham) will give a lecture on indigenous water beings and multi-species democracy.
Other topics include:

  • ancestral knowledge and hydro-technologies
  • cosmological and legal frameworks
  • sustainable groundwater management

This year’s series is organized in cooperation with the UNESCO Chair on ‘Rivers and Heritage’ (University of Tours, France), the UNESCO Chair on ‘Water and Culture’ (University of the Republic, Montevideo, Uruguay), and the Global Network of Water Museums (WAMU-NET).

The event will be held in English, Spanish, and French.
For information please write to:  unescochair.water@unive.it
More info

This aerial image of the Po River delta and its typical ‘fishing valleys’ summarizes a type of man-made waterscape that was created since the Roman era. In 2015, the Po River delta area was acknowledged by UNESCO as a “Man and Biosphere” reserve – and its waterscapes excellently illustrate this year’s course titled “Water, Culture, Society”. By extension, this image is a reference to all those ‘natural’ areas whose waters have been managed for centuries by humans with specific knowledge, techniques, and know-how. Author: Gastone Rino Dissette. Copyright: Veneto Regional Park ‘Po Delta’

Tools for promoting the natural and cultural water heritage

The first training course organised by the Chair will be held online in form of a webinar series and will focus on different tools, strategies and good practices aimed at promoting water heritage outside museums.
The course includes 12 webinars and 24 highly qualified speakers from different nationalities. It will run on Zoom every Friday from 13.00 to 15.00 CET starting from the 22nd of October and until the 21st of January 2022.
During the course, the following topics are presented and discussed: inland hydrography, riverscapes and urban waterscapes; reading and interpretation of ancestral technologies; heritage mapping and digitization; itinerary design and digital audioguides; methodologies to build participative approaches for enhanced water management; eco-museums and community-led water museums; visual anthropology, collection of oral histories and video interviews; water as sustainable tourism resource; engaging audiences outside museums.

Course presentations


22nd October 2021
file pdfFrancesco Vallerani
Ca' Foscari University of Venice, UNESCO Chair holder, Italy
4.64 M
file pdfEriberto Eulisse
UNESCO Chair coordinator, Italy
6.11 M
29th October 2021
file pdfJordi Morató Farreras
UNESCO Chair “Sustainability”, UPC, Barcelona, Spain
5.66 M
5th November 2021
file pdfJavier Taks
UNESCO chair “Agua y cultura”, Montevideo, Uruguay
1.90 M
file pdfSara Ahmed
Living Water Museum, India
4.78 M
12th November 2021
19th November 2021
file pdfGiulio Castelli
University of Florence, Italy
5.15 M
file pdfLucrezia Gigante
Leicester University, UK
5.17 M
26th November 2021
file pdfValentina Bonifacio
Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy
4.99 M
file pdfAlice Chautard
University of Oxford, UK
9.73 M
3rd December 2021
file pdfRobin Weinberg
Oral History Association
10.13 M
10th December 2021
file pdfMichael Scoullos
HYDRIA, Greece
3.85 M
file pdfFarah Kabir
Action Aid Bangladesh
3.34 M
17th December 2021
file pdfEdo Bricchetti
Ecomuseum of Martesana, Italy
21 M
file pdfOsvaldo Negra
MUSE-Science Museum Trento, Italy
13.61 M


7th January 2022
file pdfPaolo Pileri
Politecnico di Milano, Italy
5.84 M
file pdfIfor Duncan
Ca' Foscari University of Venice
3.55 M
14th January 2022
file pdfGraham Boxer
Canal & River Trust, UK
5.46 M
21st January 2022
file pdfHidenobu Jinnai
Hosei University, Tokyo, Japan
9.52 M
file pdfSteven Loiselle
University of Siena, Italy / Earthwatch
3.08 M

Events and news


Past events and news


Hosted by

Ca' Foscari University of Venice


Water Museums Global Network
Civiltà dell'Acqua - Centro Internazionale
Water Museum of Venice

Other UNESCO Centres and Chairs  
linked to the training activity for water museum

UNESCO Centre cat.2 (Prof. E. Moors), Delft, The Netherlands
Université de Tours
UNESCO Chair “Fleuves et Patrimoine” (Prof. K.M. Wantzen), 37205 Tours, France
Universidade do Algarve
UNESCO Chair “Eco-Hydrology, Water for Ecosystems and Society”, (Prof. L.Chicaro), Faro, Portugal
UPF Universitat Pompeu Fabra Barcelona
UNESCO Chair on “Sustainability” (Prof. J.Farreras), Barcelona, Spain
Hellenic Republic - National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
UNESCO Chair “Management and Education for Sustainable Development in the Mediterranean”, (Prof. M. Scoullos), Athens, Greece
Università degli Studi di Perugia
UNESCO Chair “Water Resources Management and Culture” (Prof. L. Ubertini), Italy
Universidad de la República Uruguay
UNESCO Chair “Agua y Cultura” (Prof. J.Taks), Montevideo Uruguay