In 2015 the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) stand at the heart of it. As a blueprint for achieving better futures for all, the SDGs make an urgent call for action to address challenges such as poverty, inequality, climate change, and environmental degradation.
For its active engagement to promote water awareness education, in 2018 UNESCO acknowledged the Global Network of Water Museums as a ‘flagship initiative’ of IHP (Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme) in order to foster water sustainability education worldwide (Resolution of UNESCO-IHP n.XXIII-5).
Today, museums play a pivotal role in understanding past management and social practices related to water and our ancestral connections with the liquid element. Indeed, museums are invaluable repositories of knowledge on humanity’s different and multi-faceted cultures of water.
Understanding inherited knowledge and know-how is essential for achieving the SDGs and fostering new perceptions of water and its values. Museums display a heritage of all kinds – whether natural, cultural, tangible, or intangible. Today such a precious heritage is crucial to face the global water crisis. Indeed, museums can greatly contribute to halting the loss of biodiversity and aquatic ecosystems and cultivating involvement of the civil society.
While promoting greater awareness of lessons and achievements gained throughout the water history of humankind, museums inspire new visions for building just and sustainable futures by re-connecting our ‘watery past’ with contemporary management approaches and more farsighted uses of modern technologies.