Interreg EU SWARE

Sustainable heritage management of WAterway REgions

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Interreg Europe

Period: January 2016 – June 2020
European programme of reference: Interreg Europe


Fostering an integrated management of natural and cultural heritage within inland waterway regions in order to create a better balance between the protection and sustainable exploitation of the natural resources and the built heritage sites. Two sub-objectives are:

  • establishing integrated multilevel and participatory governance schemes and frameworks and developing coordinated regional management structures addressing protection, development, valorisation and promotion of the cultural and natural assets in a holistic and sustainable manner. Indeed, a common vision on sustainable development combining environmental and economic benefits needs the involvement of all relevant stakeholders into decision-making processes.
  • raising awareness and creating a common understanding (between decision-makers, public authorities, businesses and the public, especially nearby residents) regarding the sustainable valorisation of heritage sites and the need for shaping an eco-conscious attitude of visitors of these valuable environments, in order to achieve a widespread support and commitment. Indeed, co-creating joint development strategies and actions of waterway regions requires horizontal and vertical, as well as cross-sector cooperation between all these actors, particularly within the heritage protection schemes and the leisure industry.


The waterway regions involved in SWARE all share unique natural and cultural heritage: protected areas with rich biodiversity and a bunch of enticing historic cities and buildings connected to water. These amenities make them more and more attractive for leisure activities resulting in an ever growing number of visitors (30/50% increase over the past 10 years) which causes tensions with heritage conservation aspects. All SWARE partners recognize that the socioeconomic future of their regions is fundamentally depending on finding the synergies between preserving the cultural and natural values and "opening their gates" with a controlled visitor management, especially by demonstrating the economic value that a “green” leisure industry can bring to a region. Thus, SWARE strives for achieving a better balance between protection and sustainable exploitation of the valuable natural and cultural resources through improving the development programmes and policies of the partners, based on the transfer of good practices of other participating regions.
Simultaneously, partners share the common bottleneck of fragmented governance structures without proper cooperation forms. In this respect, SWARE stimulates the establishment of new participatory governance schemes to implement more efficient policies contributing to the sustainable regional development. As an overall result, decision-makers, public and private players, as well as inhabitants, will gain a better knowledge and commitment towards protecting and sustainably “using” their environmental and cultural assets. People living in the surrounding urban areas increasingly ask to explore these landscapes that provide exceptional potential for leisure activities, linking nature and natural heritage.

The Lombard plain is crossed by a dense and complex system of canals (Naviglio Grande, N.Martesana, N.Pavese, N. di Bereguardo, N. di Paderno) which bear witness to significant historical and architectural sites, numerous protected areas like regional natural parks and Natura 2000 sites. These rich heritage values are the main reasons behind the increasing popularity of the region among visitors. Therefore, the waterway related heritage assets in the Metropolitan area increasingly needs to be better managed.
However, the insufficient economic resources have led to a significant decrease of interventions in this field. Concurrently, involving communities may pave the way for the (self)sustainability of heritage. To conclude, a smarter and balanced management & governance approach is needed for the Milanese area and can only be developed if there is a strong political and public awareness of the unique assets of this area.


Based on the exchange of good practices with other similar European public entities, the Metropolitan City of Milan is fostering synergies between local actors. These synergies and cooperation channels should better interlink the local and regional governments, the territorial networks and other stakeholders, including private entities and the visitors/inhabitants in the area. This more integrated and coordinated governance approach will focus on enhancing and optimizing the management of the unique heritage in the metropolitan area of Milan. In the middle/long-run, the new projects implemented and the governance structures established will strongly contribute to the enhancement of cultural and natural values of the territory and will lead to the self-sustainability of these assets and values.

The Partners are the Association Regio Water (Netherlands, coordinator), the Tipperary County Council (Ireland), the Metropolitan City of Milan (Italy), the Pons Danubii European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (Slovakia), the Vidzeme Planning Region (Latvia) and the Province of ZuidHolland (Netherlands).

Ultimo aggiornamento: 21 May 2018
Data creazione: 06 April 2018

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