The policy interpretation of the WCCO 2018 World Canal Cities Forum: Four major industry trends will be promoted

The 2018 World Canal Cities Forum sponsored by The World Historic and Cultural Canal Cities Cooperation Organization (WCCO) and the China National Committee for Pacific Economic Cooperation (CNCPEC) was held in Yangzhou, China. More than 400 international friendship city representatives, canal protection experts and scholars, including Zheng Jianbang, vice president of the CPPCC National Committee, former Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen, and Deputy Minister of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Qian Hongshan provided valuable suggestions on the world grand canal construction industry and sustainable development.

As early as 2014, the Grand Canal was successfully included in the list of world heritage sites and entered the post-era of world heritage applications. The activation of the Grand Canal IP, the emotional bond of the Grand Canal culture, and the world’s Grand Canal industry have become a wonderful beacon of hope for the world. The 2018 World Canal Cities Forum focuses on the theme of cultural protection, heritage, and usage of canal cities, it proposed four cooperation consensuses on world canal heritage protection, tourism, ecology and legislation, and promoted the new trend of canal construction.

The 1st trend: Exploring history and using the museum as a core to develop a high-end cultural industry

China’s Grand Canal is the oldest, largest and longest canal by route and duration of travel, supporting the construction of museums for the implementation of this huge amount of heritage protection.

There are various types of grand canal heritage, from the remains of hydraulic constructs such as locks, dikes, dams and bridges, to the ancillary facilities such as storehouses, government offices, posts and palaces, from Chinese zither, paper cutting, lacquer painting and other artworks to the natural scenery along the coast, all of which embody China’s multi-thousand year-long history of canal life civilization. The museum is a safe area for cultural heritage, and the  of cultural relics into the museum is only the first step in the protection of cultural heritage. In order to form the history of canal culture and give life to the functions of social museum education and cultural preservation, it is necessary to strengthen the use of means on the basis of protection, so that various industries can join in the mass innovation of high-end culture.

At present, the high-end cultural industry centered on museums is emerging, and more and more people realize that cultural industry should get rid of its long-term subsidiary status and integrate itself into the development and construction of museums. Gong Liang, the director of Nanjing Museum said during the forum: “The expression of the Grand Canal with the museum needs to focus on keywords like exchange and communication, and do a good job in carrying forward the cultural context.” This requires a strong cooperative and exchange mechanism between museums in canal cities and between museums and society. The development and cooperation projects should be agreed upon by economic means and be paid services to deepen the cooperation system.

Taking the planning of China Grand Canal museum as an example, the forum systematically interprets the deep integration of museum and tourism. In terms of architectural design, the building near the museum provides a panoramic view of three bays scenery, which is conducive to the expansion of exhibits from physical objects to cross-strait environment and the transformation of traditional museums to ecological museums. In terms of the exhibition, the flexible design of the multi-functional exhibition halls and the long-term planning of multiple themes will also make the museum avoid stereotyped themes and keep its exhibitions interesting. From the perspective of design and development, the museum will be changed to the exhibitor from a simple focus on building shape and exhibition arrangements to a focus on the cultural needs and experience of exhibitors, so as to create an endless, beautiful exhibition hall and deepen the history of the city.


Night view of the Yangzhou ancient canal

The 2nd trend: tourism development cooperation based on culture

Culture is the soul of tourism development and tourism is the platform of cultural development. In March 2018, the Ministry Of Culture And Tourism of the People’s Republic of China announced the reform plan, bringing great opportunities for the development of two major industries. In the future, the cultural industry will take the opportunity of the tourism industry to maintain its sustainability and strong momentum, and the tourism industry will take advantage of its cultural core to promote the Chinese civilization to the world.

The World Canal City Cultural Tourism Promotion Alliance was initiated by the Cultural Canal Cities Cooperation Organization (WCCO) on the cultural tourism cooperation forum, which was well received by its participants. It is the bounden duty of the cities along the canal to strengthen the interactive communication of world canal city culture tourism and promote the prosperity and progress of the world tourism market. It is the bounden duty of the cities along the canal to strengthen the interactive communication of the world canal city culture tourism and promote the prosperity and progress of the world tourism market.

The canal, being built along the river and only getting stronger because of the river, it is the common history and characteristic of the global canal city. At present, there are more than 520 canals in the world, passing through 52 countries, and more than 3,000 canal cities are distributed along these routes. The historical remains and development difficulties they contain have a large degree of common ground. This inspires relevant organizations to focus on canal properties and launch the global tourism industry cooperation based on canal culture through the three-step strategy of “point, line, and surface”.

The construction of scenic spots is the foundation of canal culture tourism. The Jiangsu section of the Grand Canal alone containes 7 world cultural heritage areas, 22 heritage sites and 325 kilometers of heritage river section, and has 214 key cultural relic protection units and 131 national intangible cultural heritage sites distributed along the canal, providing abundant materials for the long-term development of the tourism industry.

By the point and line, it connects the world canal ancient town’s cooperation and exchange. In 2017, 20 world canal ancient towns jointly proposed the establishment of the world canal ancient town cooperation mechanism, and many places promoted tourism products and preferential policies with each other. They jointly operated the canal brand and promoted the rapid transformation of canal cultural heritage in tourism products in the breakthrough of national, ethnic and regional boundaries.

We bring the line to the surface to complete area fusion development. Canal culture has multiple ways of expression. From folk customs to handicrafts, from food culture to opera literature and art, promoting mutually beneficial industrial cooperation is to promote the common prosperity of canal cultural tourism. This requires the inclusiveness of embracing all rivers. The only way to get canal cities into the canal ecosystem is to bring the whole industry into the canal ecosystem, and to provide the financing, technology and material support for production linkage and economic operations, so that the canal cities can open up a win-win opportunity for the 1 + 1 > 2 phenomenon in the construction of the canal city.


Grand Canal heritage site – the Yangzhou Slender West Lake

The 3rd trend: The introduction of scientific and technological achievements in ecological protection, making the canal development of good protection and good utilization into a reality.

The big picture needs a lot of responsibility. It is the responsibility of future generations to strengthen the comprehensive management of the canal and promote conservation and restoration of the environment. During the world canal city ecological construction forum, the guests jointly proposed that they should accelerate the transformation and upgrading of industries along the canal by ecological protection and restoration, create a water ecological cultural landmark and tell a good story of water culture.

Technology is a solid booster for improving human life. It can speed up water purification and meet the urgent needs for water treatment and protection by introducing the scientific achievements of biological conservation into water ecology construction. Based on this, the participants conducted technical exchanges on water purification technology, ecological monitoring and shoreline planning.

From pollution treatment to water quality improvement and finally to ecological civilization, the water treatment of the canal needs the confidence of all parties concerned. Nowadays, the water purification technology is gradually maturing, including the three-dimensional technique of artificial grass, large flow micro-bubble oxygen filling technology and solar power technology, to be relied on for purposes such as eliminating odours. Oxidation sludge greatly enhances the self-purification capacity of rivers. It is reported that the latest ultra-magnetic separation water purification technology has also entered the market, and can rapidly reduce the main pollutants such as SS, COD, TP, and revive a river of clean water.

It is easier to treat water than it is to keep it. At the scene, Laurent Gestin, Technical Director of Asia’s Smart Water and Ecological Construction at the Suez Group in France, showed how the city’s integrated management and control platform can provide scientific and technological wisdom in ecological pre-judgment and information integration. He talked about existing infrastructure levels that provide three levels of service in urban intelligent drainage: “monitoring, predictions, and dynamic management”. It can show large data collection of pump station through the SCADA system, so as to provide the main basis for the decision-making of water conditions, rain and work conditions in real time, so as to take care of risk avoidance. Taking this system as a model, the water environment monitoring platform is moving towards refinement and sophistication and will be more widely be used to support the green water fight.

As a whole, the top-level design should be done well. It not only emphasizes water environment but also focuses on water circulation and water ecology, paying attention to surface water as well as groundwater and mountains and rivers, so as to establish a virtuous cycle centered on water.


2018 World Canal Cities Forum, Urban Ecological Construction Forum

The 4th trend: Legislative protection and practice to promote the orderly development of the canal economy

“What does the grand canal protection protect and manage? Who is going to manage it? How do we manage it?” These are the three management questions raised by Professor Wang Yi of Yangzhou University on the coordinated construction of the canal.

So far, Yangzhou has promulgated the Yangzhou Ancient City Protection Regulation, Yangzhou Park Regulation, Yangzhou River Regulation, Yangzhou Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection Regulation and other regulations on the legalized management of Grand Canal, which has set a solid step of good law and good governance. However, the current system is far from enough to achieve complete control. The realization of moving from local city legislation to national legislation depends on mass planning and efforts and the support of relevant departments.

NGOs are an important part of social forces, and can make a difference in promoting the Grand Canal legislation. On the one hand, relevant non-governmental organizations have strong subject matter and a high degree of specialization and gather talents in various fields such as environmental protection and legislation, which can provide key suggestions for legislation. On the other hand, members are actively engaged in the front line of ecological civilization construction with a broad mass base and easy access to first-hand information to provide factual cases for legislation. In addition, non-governmental organizations have also accumulated certain levels of social wealth, provided non-profit financial support for special work, and helped to define the red line of protection.

At present, the Jiangsu Provincial People’s Congress Standing Committee has included the legislative work of the Grand Canal cultural belt into related planning projects and launched the legislative survey on the decision of the Jiangsu Provincial People’s Congress Standing Committee to promote the construction of the Grand Canal cultural belt. In the future, non-governmental organizations will contribute more to legislation protection and practice, and escort the orderly development of the canal economy.


Member of the Council of the World Canal Historical and Cultural City Cooperation Organization

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