The World Canals Conference took place in Leipzig, Germany from 31 May to 3 June 2022 after an unwelcome break due to covid.
Speakers from 20 nations across 4 continents explained how waterways, tourism, regional development, flood and environmental protection and urban renewal can be efficiently promoted. Reflecting the ‘local’ picture, the main topic was TRANSFORMATION - the change from lignite mining to sustainable water landscapes and how water and health can be thought of together.
Amongst the many presentations at the conference, Green WIN’s potential pumping improvements featured in CDM Smith and Waterways Ireland’s presentation which set out issues involved in Sustainable Water Supply for the Ulster Canal Restoration Phase II (Clones) Catherine Topley, Chief Executive Officer, Scottish Canals ‘Approach to Canals and Leisure’ was of great relevance to NIWE and Green WIN partners.
The presentation by Mr Robert Marx, President, German Marine Federation ‘Economic potential of water tourism in Germany’ was also keenly received. His comments “in the last 2 years in particular, water sports have experienced a real boost, especially in the inland area. A functioning infrastructure is the be-all and end-all for sustainable development.” reflected NIWE’s research into post Covid impacts the need to find and sustain ways to capitalise on increased interest witnessed during ‘lockdowns’
Another presentation of interest to NIWE members was ‘Open space-oriented urban development – the green-blue infrastructure as a driver in Leipzig’ by Mr Rüdiger Dittmar, Head of Office, Office for Green Spaces & Waters, City of Leipzig. The impacts of lignite mining in and around Leipzig is clearly still around – but there are many examples of how waterways are key places to re-invigorate landscapes.
Green WIN project manager, Chris Barnett, and NIWE Chair, Danny Brennan were on hand to discuss the Green WIN project and how NIWE, as a network promoting co-operation between like-minded inland waterway managers, are supporting the project. They co-hosted a stand alongside IWI (an Associate Partner in Green WIN) handing out brochures – including versions especially translated for the majority German audience – and showing the Waterways Ireland video explaining pump replacement work at Richmond Harbour to interested visitors to the stand.