Blue Papers 2023-11-09T22:43:52+01:00 Carola Hein Open Journal Systems <p>Blue Papers: a Journal for Empowering Water and Heritage for Sustainable Development <span style="font-size: 0.875rem;">edited by Carola Hein, Matteo D’Agostino, Carlien Donkor,</span> <span style="font-size: 0.875rem;">Queenie Lin &amp; Hilde Sennema.</span></p> Living with Water 2023-11-08T11:37:43+01:00 Sara Ahmed <p>In East Libya in September 2023, two dams burst and flooded low-lying areas in Derna, killing thousands of people. The tragedy has given a painful twist to the idea of living with water and to the preface I was planning to write for this volume. Yes, water is the elixir of life, but water can also bring death and destruction, and the rapid pace of urbanization coupled with the growing uncertainty of climate change means that we must be sensitive to how we live with water. All our actions, whether remodelling riverfronts in the name of modernization, covering ancient water tanks or reclaiming coastal land for malls, flyovers, bridges and housing societies, will have consequences, especially for the poor and marginalized, whose lives are shaped by the intersection of land and water.</p> 2023-11-08T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Sara Ahmed Living with Water: Bringing Back Human-Water Relationships 2023-11-08T11:55:43+01:00 Carola Hein Carlien Donkor Matteo D’Agostino Queenie Lin Zuzanna Sliwinska Julia Korpacka <p>In March 2023, thousands of people from various disciplines came together in New York for the United Nations 2023 Water Conference. The attendees included policymakers, activists, professionals and academics, all with an interest in the water sector. The conference provided a platform to share knowledge and exchange ideas about water-related challenges. Through a combination of in-house and side events, participants were provided with the opportunity to voice their concerns, engage in crucial discussions and exchange novel insights, despite the predominantly scripted nature of the event as a forum tailored for politicians and policymakers. The Water Conference identified risks ensuing from the number of short-term commitments, unclear funding and the lack of quantifiable measurements (President of the General Assembly 2023). The Water Conference also saw the adoption of the Water Action Agenda (United Nations 2023), consisting of voluntary commitments in line with UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and focusing on water. Crafting these commitments posed a challenge, highlighting the complex nature of the United Nations’efforts in fostering collaboration among people representing diverse backgrounds, interests, cultures and histories.</p> 2023-11-08T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Water, Culture and International Institutions 2023-11-09T21:02:05+01:00 E. Lynn Porta Aaron T. Wolf <p>This article focuses on the integration of different values of water, ranging from intrinsic to emotional, in international treaties and transboundary organizations. After introducing the “four worlds of water” (Wolf 2017), we discuss the increased recognition of locally based cultural and spiritual values of water in global conventions, international freshwater treaties and regional river basin organizations. Global conventions generally use more technical and broad formulations and international treaties tend to focus on small geographic areas and the need to protect water, and environmental resources associated with water, while the cultural impacts of water management decisions on local communities are most apparent at the governance level of regional organizations.</p> 2023-11-09T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2023 E. Lynn Porta, Aaron T. Wolf Water and Heritage: Sustainable Alternatives Based on the Worldviews of South American Communities 2023-11-09T22:36:05+01:00 Vera Margarida Lessa Catalão Sergio Augusto de Mendonça Ribeiro <p>Water has a central position in the cosmovision of Native peoples in Brazilian culture. In the Andes, water is sacred and revered. However, in South America, colonial practices and the advance of agriculture and farming following industrialization has had devastating effects on cultures and ecologies. Only in recent decades has awareness started growing that there might be lessons for a sustainable future to be found in Indigenous peoples’ ways of living with water. This article conceptualizes the importance of “nature-based solutions” and illustrates this with examples from Brazil (Minas Gerais) and the Andes. It shows how ancient water practices are still present in local communities and languages, and the authors suggest ways of reinstating and protecting water-related heritage that go beyond the divides between nature and culture, tangible and intangible.</p> 2023-11-09T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Vera Margarida Lessa Catalão, Sergio Augusto de Mendonça Ribeiro At the Sources of the Sacred: Evoking Nature and its Cults by Listening to the Rivers 2023-11-09T22:07:11+01:00 Pascal Bourdeaux <p>Zones of fluvial influence, which were the cradles of many human societies both past and present, are key in today’s discourse on how to manage water, culture and heritage in ways that are compatible with sustainable development. Water/river customs have served environmental/cultural practices. This article discusses the interdependence or dissociation between “nature/water” and “culture,” which has forged a more or less strict dualism depending on specific religious frameworks. This dualism can be critically analyzed by sociology, phenomenology and political ecology. The relationship between the reverence accorded to the “sacred” and “nature” and how humans have maintained this respect is however not enough when addressing environmental crises. Could a new approach involve exploiting religious history to restore practical and moral meaning to contemporary challenges, including water-related environmental issues? Very few research programs or development projects really consider transdisciplinary and transcultural perspectives. A suggestion would be to combine the history of science, the comparative history of religious beliefs, the political sciences and cultural studies to define a “global history of religious ecology.” This would aid understanding of the multiplicity of religious conceptions of nature.</p> 2023-11-09T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Pascal Bourdeaux Intangible Heritage to Strengthen Local Water Management 2023-11-09T21:39:56+01:00 Jet Bakels Chantal Bisschop <p>Can intangible cultural heritage (ICH) help to reduce biodiversity loss and and water shortages related to climate change? Can it contribute to managing water shortages and surpluses on a local level? This article argues that some useful forms of intangible, “living” heritage offer valuable knowledge and practices that can serve as adaptive strategies in a changing environment. Binding practitioners to a specific place and to each other and connecting past and future generations, ICH can bring local knowledge and experience into the work field. The examples introduced here include grassland irrigation, water milling and hedge-laying: all used in the past, replaced by new inventions (e.g. fertilizers, new techniques for grinding grains and barbed wire taking the place of hedges respectively), and reintroduced because of their potential role in water management and ability to help create a climate-robust landscape. The valuable insights and practices of “citizen scientists” using these traditional techniques are too often overlooked by policy makers and academics.</p> 2023-11-09T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Jet Bakels, Chantal Bisschop Pondering the Past: Exploring the Synergy between Water Management and Heritage Management 2023-11-09T21:34:21+01:00 Jean-Paul Corten <p>Because of the urgency of the current water challenges, we need to decide on a water-heritage agenda. In order to do so, we should first disentangle the sometimes confusing relationship between water management and heritage management. Where do water and heritage management meet and how can they serve each other? It is argued that fruitful synergy between the two disciplines can be reached in three dimensions: the historic dimension, the conservation dimension and the planning dimension. The subject of interaction between the two disciplines differs per dimension and relates to the changing water system, the heritage we cherish and a changing living environment respectively. The synergy to be reached between the two disciplines differs accordingly.</p> 2023-11-09T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Jean-Paul Corten Whose Past? Reflections on the Recuperation of Ancestral Water Structures in Peru 2023-11-09T21:57:14+01:00 Lena Hommes <p>Efforts to shape more sustainable and just land and water management practices are increasingly turning to the past for inspiration. However, what the past looked like exactly and what can be learned from it and applied to present-day challenges is not straightforward. Peru is one of those places where reviving ancestral land and water management practices and knowledge has become popular. This article starts with a project that aimed to recuperate ancestral water infiltration structures in the Peruvian highlands. Drawing on interviews conducted shortly after the project’s implementation, the author analyses how history and “the past” are imagined differently by various actors, according to their current worldviews, interests and values. The author unpacks the consequences of these diverse pasts for present-day relations and project implementation, calling attention to the importance of making explicit the “politics of the past,” including how the past is portrayed and by whom, and which past is to be recuperated or revalorized.</p> 2023-11-09T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Lena Hommes Underwater Cultural Heritage and the Sustainable Development Goals 2023-11-09T21:11:55+01:00 Elena Perez-Alvaro <p>Underwater cultural heritage is heritage that is surrounded by water. It can be found in rivers, lakes, oceans and reservoirs, and comprises tangible heritage – wrecks, fishing tools, sunken cities and aircraft – as well as the intangible heritage of many civilizations. However, this heritage is not only part of the past; it can also provide answers to the many challenges that international agendas face today. With its connection to cultural aspects of communities around the world, it offers knowledge that can be helpfully applied to the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations Agenda 2030.</p> 2023-11-09T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Elena Perez-Alvaro An Experimental Catalyst for the Future Living and Working Environment: The WaterSchool 2023-11-09T22:15:17+01:00 Rianne Makkink Barbara Kaczmarczyk <p>In the times of climate crisis, cities face acute challenges. Over 80 per cent of all climate change emergencies and disasters are water-related: floods and drought, pollution, water conflicts, rapid urbanization, a growing demand for food and energy, and migration. Many of these have historic roots in our lifestyle choices, our preference for specific kinds of technology, and energy usage. The omnipresence of water challenges and the way in which we have addressed them in the past give us the opportunity to treat water as leverage for comprehensive changes.The WaterSchool M4H+ in Rotterdam responds to this opportunity by raising awareness of our enormous water footprint and the ways we can reduce it through possibilities and solutions offered by design.</p> 2023-11-09T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Rianne Makkink, Barbara Kaczmarczyk The Role of Historical Data Regarding Water Infrastructure in the Spatial Development of the Nieuwmarkt Area, Amsterdam 2023-11-09T22:27:27+01:00 Theo Kremer Marco Scheffers Julia Geven <p>Historical information is an important resource for designing and sustainably developing contemporary cities, notably ones such as Amsterdam that have long histories. The historical information is embedded in physical places and structures as well as practices; it is also found in plans and texts that are held in multiple archives. It can be difficult to connect information about the past -- e.g., building materials, construction technologies, plans and proposals -- to contemporary needs and themes. Access to archives is not standardized, the material is not always digitized and it is not compatible with contemporary information systems, such as BIM and GIS. Information that has been organized in the past according to the criteria and values of the past does not always relate to current systems: think of historic handwritten documents, maps or drawings that are geolocalized, historical street names or terminologies. More attention is needed to effectively link historical data to sustainable development, while protecting the heritage of our historic cities. Doing this work is crucial: the information of today is the heritage of the future.</p> 2023-11-09T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Theo Kremer, Marco Scheffers, Julia Geven (Re)visiting and (Re)valuing the Vanishing Water Heritage in VOC Asia: Dutch Malacca and Ceylon 2023-11-09T22:11:35+01:00 Queenie Lin <p>Dutch engineers are well-known for their skillful water management, best exemplified in the meticulously designed canals, irrigation and drainage systems, reservoirs, wells and moats that characterize both the Netherlands and places abroad where they have been active. Many of these structures that exist outside the Netherlands and were created by the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, VOC, between 1602-1795) in Asia remain understudied. This article identifies and revisits these forgotten and often vanishing water structures through both archival and field research in Dutch Malacca and Ceylon. It explores the ways in which water management interventions during the VOC period recognized and made use of built-upon local wisdom, systematically adapting environmental knowledge into Dutch technology and governance to improve living in the tropics for both the Dutch and the local hybrid communities. Dutch water structures from the VOC period in Malacca in contemporary Malaysia and present-day Sri Lanka are examples of VOC approaches to tackling challenges in tropical environments. These historic sites – including heritage sites, some of which are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage properties – can be informative about how to adapt to current climate situations, both in terms of spatial structures and in terms of intangible practices, including cultural wisdom derived from strategies developed by the Dutch and from interactions between Dutch and local hybrid communities.</p> 2023-11-09T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Queenie Lin Azudes along the Serpis River: Cultural Heritage, Obstacles and Contested Authority 2023-11-09T22:43:52+01:00 Ana María Arbeláez-Trujillo Juliana Forigua-Sandoval <p>Preserving cultural heritage and achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of protecting life below water do not always go hand in hand. The case of the Serpis River sheds light on the political, cultural and legal tensions that may arise when pursuing these two policy goals. To better understand these tensions, we propose acknowledging that rivers are complex natural-cultural systems imagined and shaped through various actors’ values, interests, practices and infrastructures (Boelens et al. 2016). River restoration initiatives generate divisions between actors and institutions with different ways of defining and valuing natural and cultural heritage.</p> 2023-11-09T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Ana María Arbeláez-Trujillo, Juliana Forigua-Sandoval Water, through Words and Evils: The Case of Saint-Louis 2023-11-09T22:04:44+01:00 Moustaph Ndiaye <p>Certain cultures portray the sacredness of water in rituals performed daily and to mark different stages of life. Water has been revered the home of protective spirits, according to myths and legends, such as those of the Serer people in Senegal. This spiritual connection between water and people, which has favored its preservation, has been undermined with the emergence of industrialization and urbanization. This shift in perception has led to water being viewed primarily as a commodity. The Island of Saint-Louis is faced with a paradox of benefits and challenges due to its colonial cultural heritage and unique deltaic condition. This article discusses the vulnerability of the site and its water heritage along with the opportunities it could bring for sustainable development of the island.</p> 2023-11-09T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Moustaph Ndiaye Climate Change and Fish Farming: Venetian “Fish Valleys” as a Design Device for Coastal Adaptation and Mitigation 2023-11-09T21:52:35+01:00 Laura Cipriani Alessandro Destro <p>Beginning in the fourteenth century, along the northeastern Italian coastline, Venetians began to create a series of hydraulic structures called “fishing valleys,” which combined aquaculture production with lagoon and seawater management. According to the current scenarios provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the coastal areas, where many historic fish farms still stand, will inevitably be affected by the rise in sea level. To be preserved, coastlines will require some sort of water defense or possibly a managed retreat. Can we redesign traditional fish-farm systems as climate, economic and environmental adaptation devices? Through a series of design scenarios, this contribution explores how traditional fish farming can help redefine the territorial scale by addressing climate change and reviving existing production systems.</p> 2023-11-09T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Laura Cipriani , Alessandro Destro Collaborating on Sustainable Interflow Water Collection: The Erfeng Irrigation Canal System from the Period of Japanese Rule in Taiwan 2023-11-09T22:19:20+01:00 Szu-Ling Lin Cheh-Shyh Ting <p>While the world struggles with limited water resources, interflow water is a hidden gem of a solution. Interflow is an important water source contributing to river flow. It is the movable water in the unsaturated zone, or vadose zone, which may return to the stream or go into the riverbed. The collection of interflow water was included in the design of the Erfeng Irrigation Canal System (EICS) during the Japanese period in Taiwan (1895–1945), and it is still used in the EICS in Pingtung in southern Taiwan. Today, urbanization and changes in land usage have reduced the EICS’s irrigation function. At the same time, intensive habitation has introduced pollution to the canal area. Furthermore, new extensions and rebuilt facilities of the irrigation infrastructure have minimized historic values. We are involved in working to maintain the canal in a way that safeguards cultural heritage values and to expand other functions of EICS, such as by installing micro-hydro facilities over the canal to preserve its importance to local communities.</p> 2023-11-09T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Szu-Ling Lin, Cheh-Shyh Ting Waterworld: The Use and Reuse of Lake Tadane in Safeguarding Knowledge and Sustaining the Cultural Heritage of the Nzulezo Community 2023-11-09T21:48:29+01:00 Joseph Pieterson <p>Nzulezo, a tentative World Heritage Site listed in 2000 by UNESCO, is a community built on Lake Tadane in the Western Region of Ghana. Since its nomination, Nzulezo has become an attraction to both Ghanaians and foreigners alike. Over the years, the population has built dwellings and other structures to form the village over the lake, a way of adapting to an environment made up of about 70 per cent freshwater, about 20 per cent wetland, and 10 per cent land. Nzulezo stands out among heritage sites in Ghana due to its traditional architectural style. The village structures are made of wood and raffia. Located in a water-dominated environment, the community experiences changes in water levels that are predominantly seasonal. The water level is low from December to April during the dry season and high from June to August during the rainy season. In Nzulezo, the entire management of the site has been left to the Ghana Wildlife Society, a non-governmental organization (NGO). The focus of the management is tourism-driven, with less regard for the community members and the environment.</p> 2023-11-09T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Joseph Pieterson A Hidden Water-Harvesting System: The Sassi di Matera 2023-11-09T21:28:34+01:00 Inge Bobbink Wenting Gao Isabella Banfi <p>The water-harvesting system of the ancient Sassi di Matera, in the Basilicata region of southern Italy, represents a clever way of living with water in an arid climate. The terrain, with its soft rocks (Calcarenite di Gravina), provided the foundation for the water-harvesting system that shaped the cave dwellings of Sassi physically, socially and culturally. People caught, guided and stored water in private and public spaces, mostly underground, ensuring its availability for all. In 1993 UNESCO declared the cave village a World Heritage Site. Unfortunately, the water-harvesting system of Sassi di Matera is no longer functioning. Its historic ingenuity is not as visible as the system deserves and its cultural and social values are almost forgotten. Using layered visual analysis – the illustrative method – knowledge can be collected and communicated in drawings to get insight regarding more resilient, circular, and people-related approaches (Bobbink, Chourairi and Di Nicola 2022). This article and the included drawings focus on the water system’s value, from which we can learn today.</p> 2023-11-09T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Inge Bobbink, Wenting Gao, Isabella Banfi Caxambu Water and Heritage: Cultural and Environmental Strategies for Mineral Water Preservation 2023-11-09T21:21:43+01:00 Filipe Condé Alves <p>This article examines civic commitments and legal frameworks that have defended public access to water by recognizing its cultural value. In Caxambu, Brazil, the local population has collected mineral water from natural springs for centuries. The water’s use is embedded in local social and cultural practices. However, over the last thirty years the water sources have become increasingly threatened by commercial and industrial interests. The local government and civic society have responded to the threat by creating protected areas and their efforts have culminated in the legal recognition of cultural intangible heritage as the basis for preserving water quality and ensuring access for future generations.</p> 2023-11-09T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Filipe Condé Alves