Over 200 cultural professionals representing 28 international agencies from 27 nations attended the "Water as Heritage" conference from May 27 to 29 in Chiayi City to discuss innovative approaches to heritage preservation through five lens — water for services, waterscapes, waterways, water for power (and the power of water), and worldviews on water.
A key objective of the conference is to bring together key water-focused organizations and heritage groups and build working relationships across the diversity of sectors and disciplinary fields, stated Deputy Minister of Culture Hsiao Tsung-huang. "Water is life," he added.
Acknowledging that collaborative efforts straddling borders, departments, and disciplines are needed to mitigate the effects of climate change, Hsiao explained that Taiwan can help as generations have navigated dangerous terrains and weathered natural disasters, culminating in a wealth of ancestral and contemporary knowledge in managing water resources.
Taiwan's cultural heritage of water is defined by four crucial elements, according to Shy Gwo-long (施國隆), director of the Bureau of Cultural Heritage: management systems based on the island's multitude of rivers and streams; reciprocal aid among such systems; traditional techniques and materials unique to Taiwan; and accumulated wisdom and records that have been passed down to this day.
Henk van Schaik, water and heritage ambassador of ICOMOS Netherlands, concluded that while a lot of attention has been focused on water as a source of conflict, "water can [also] bring cooperation."
"Water as Heritage" was organized by ICOMOS Netherlands and the Centre for Global Heritage and Research of the Universities of Leiden, Delft and Rotterdam (LDE-CGHD), and Taiwan International Institute for Water Education (TIIWE). Find out more at www.water-asheritage2019.org.tw.