Canals make a vital contribution to sustainable development of many regions in Europe.

The VEV project, conceived by Midi-Pyrenees Regional Council with seven partner regions throughout Europe, is designed to show that the conservation and enhancement of heritage waterways is a genuine issue of regional development planning. VEV is an overall project in transnational collaboration that is designed to produce transferable experience.

Forging improved knowledge and recognition of the value of historic inland waterways is a process which several partners were already engaged in before VEV was launched in 1998. This is why several partners had already submitted to UNESCO (through their national governments) requests for recognition of their waterways as world heritage sites. These are the Canal du Midi, the Canal du Centre in Wallonia and middle course of the Adda in Lombardy.

Beyond this label and increasing popularity of these waterways for a vast population of users of all categories, the objective of the VEV project is to ensure, both for the regional/local authorities and for the public bodies which manage the inland waterways, the advantages of transnational co-operation between regions confronted with similar issues, also possibly opening up new possibilities of financing in the short or medium term, for pilot projects in sustainable development.

The partners, meeting in Milan on 29/10/99, thus expressed their desire to see recognition of the specific role of our historic inland waterways, in the context of the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP).