In the EU 50% of the population lives close to the coast and in the river valleys of the 15 largest rivers. Throughout history, mankind has always taken advantage of the opportunities offered by waterways. Optimising the use and re-use of rivers’ rich resources has been and still is at the core of human activities.
Waterways are a multi-purpose asset
Rivers have been arteries of development for thousands of years, because human activities are unthinkable without water for drinking, for the cultivation of food crops, as a source of power, as a component of industrial processes, for leisure and recreation and as a ready transport means.
Mankind will continue to interact with river systems, but in a different way. Preserving the ecological value of the water environment and its rich biodiversity has become a full part of sustainable development.
Some of the world's greatest cities are fronted by water. Waterfronts are rediscovered and draw people to visit, live and work. They boast regeneration and trendsetting housing projects as well as a wealth of artistic and cultural attractions. As for transport, low emission ships increasingly will carry goods into the center by water to supply citizens and ship waste out. People avoid traffic jams using waterbuses and watertaxis.
The provision of adequate flood protection in periods of high water and good infrastructure maintenance as w ell as water retention in dry periods are an additional advantage. Old situations are being reversed creating more space for the rivers.