Inaugural World Canals Awards winners announced

The winners of the first-ever World Canals Awards, which celebrates engaging, innovative and inspirational projects taking place on and along the world’s waterways, have been announced at the World Canals Conference in Inverness.

The awards celebrate innovative design and cutting-edge delivery by public, private and community organisations in a range of disciplines including sustainable tourism development, regeneration, heritage management, climate change and engineering. The awards attracted submissions from more than a dozen countries, with the winners announced at a glittering awards ceremony held in the Macdonald Drumossie Hotel in Inverness last night (21st September).

Four awards were up for grabs: the Innovation Award, sponsored by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, celebrates canal-based projects that are technologically groundbreaking in their field; the Leadership Award, sponsored by Loch Ness by Jacobite, recognises businesses, voluntary organisations or charities that are using the waterways to drive regeneration; the Guardian Award, sponsored by Historic Environment Scotland, celebrates outstanding work to safeguard the heritage of the world’s waterways; and the Pioneer Award, sponsored by Visit Inverness Loch Ness, which acknowledges projects that are paving the way in growing tourism or creating sustainable income streams linked to the world’s canals.

The winners were:

  • The Innovation Award (sponsored by Highlands and Islands Enterprise): ‘Exploring Canals – Venice’s Waterways’ (Italy), which developed a series of free apps in both Italian and English designed to help people discover the many wonders of Venice’s historic inland waterways. Users are able to access customised itineraries, explore the history of each canal, and navigate between hundreds of points of interest using interactive mapping.
  • The Leadership Award (sponsored by Loch Ness by Jacobite): ‘Waterfront Edge Design Guidelines’ (USA), which created a flexible and effective tool to create long-term, sustainable, and effective urban waterfront transformation along New York and New Jersey’s 700 miles of urbanised coastline.
  • The Guardian Award (sponsored by Historic Environment Scotland): ‘Traditional Heritage Boat Survey’ (Ireland) – the first-ever systematic audit of traditional heritage boats on Ireland’s inland waterways. The survey utilised a national team of boat experts, maritime archaeologists, academics and artists to capture the many historic vessels on the waterways, from iron canal boats and World War II amphibious vehicles to fine wooden sculling boats.
  • The Pioneer Award (sponsored by Visit Inverness Loch Ness): ‘The Kelpies’ (Scotland). The world’s largest equine sculptures, the colossal, 30-metre-tall Kelpies tower over a new section of the historic Forth & Clyde Canal and form the centrepieces of the £43m Helix project. The scheme, driven by a partnership of Falkirk Council and Scottish Canals and supported by an award of £25m from the Big Lottery Fund, has transformed 350 hectares of underused land between Falkirk and Grangemouth into a vibrant parkland, visitor attraction and marine hub with the canal and The Kelpies at its heart. More than two million visitors from all over the world have stood in the shadow of the sculptures since their unveiling in April 2014, bringing renewed vibrancy and income to the area and boosting the local economy by an estimated £1.5m per year.

“We’re delighted to announce the winners of the inaugural World Canals Awards. We received some fantastic submissions from all over the globe and it’s clear to see that there are a huge number of innovative projects taking place on canals worldwide.

“From using modern technology to encourage people to engage with the rich history of centuries-old canals, to the creation of wide-ranging guidelines for waterside regeneration and the construction of majestic monuments to horse-powered heritage, the inaugural World Canals Awards has captured some truly wonderful projects and highlighted that waterways worldwide are playing an increasingly vital role in the communities that line their banks.”

Steve Dunlop, Chief Executive of Scottish Canals

The prestigious World Canals Conference, which takes place on the 19th – 22nd September on the banks of the majestic Caledonian Canal, has welcomed 300 business leaders and global professionals from a huge range of disciplines to Inverness.

Dozens of speakers, academics and experts at the pinnacle of their fields feature on the programme, including Roland Lewis, President and CEO of the New York Waterfront Alliance; Alexander “Pete” Grannis, First Deputy Comptroller for the New York State Office of the State Comptroller; and Daniel Fábrega, Panama’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Each speaker will focus on one of the conference’s four themes: Technical Challenges and Innovation; Safeguarding the Heritage of our Waterways; Waterways as a Driver for Regeneration; and Growing Tourism & Commercialising Waterway Assets.

For further information, please contact:

Chris McDonald at Scottish Canals on 07917217608 or email

Josie Saunders at Scottish Canals on 07881816283 or email

Notes to Editors

About Scottish Canals

Scottish Canals is responsible to the Scottish Government for the management and development of the Union, Monkland, Forth & Clyde, Crinan and Caledonian Canals. As well as the waterways themselves, Scottish Canals care for 251 bridges, 212 buildings, 256 locks, The Falkirk Wheel, The Kelpies and 19 water supply reservoirs in locations across Scotland. The reservoirs cover an area equivalent to 7,494 football pitches and supply the canals with the 332 million litres of water which flow through them each day

The Forth & Clyde, Union and Monkland canals in the Lowlands, the Crinan Canal in Argyll and the Caledonian Canal in the Highlands together extend over 137 miles from coast to coast, across country and into the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness.Built two hundred years ago to fire the Industrial Revolution, Scotland’s canals are now recognised as Scheduled Monuments and attract 22million visits per year

For more information, visit or follow @ScottishCanals on Twitter

About the World Canals Conference

The biggest event in the international waterways calendar, Inverness joins an illustrious list of past World Canals Conference hosts including the Grand Canal in China, Montreal in Canada and New York in the USA. As well as innovative projects from around the globe, the 2016 World Canals Conference will also celebrate developments along Scotland’s 137-mile waterway network, from the creation of The Kelpies – the largest equine sculptures on the planet – to The Falkirk Wheel’s role as the world’s only rotating boat lift and an iconic tourism destination.

Over 300 business leaders from more than a dozen countries will attend the four-day conference from the 19th – 22nd September, hearing from keynote speakers including Dr Jonathan Chambers, Team Leader in Geophysical Tomography at the British Geographical Survey; Riccardo Marini, Director of Gehl Architects; and Daniel Fabrega, Panama’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom. More than 50 presentations and plenary sessions will also be held over the course of the conference.

As well as a range of high profile speakers, the event has also attracted sponsors and partners from around the globe. Red Bull; KLM; Air France; VisitScotland; the Scottish Government; the Year of Innovation, Architecture & Design; Sustrans; Linssen Yachts; AECOM; Visit Inverness Loch Ness; Peter Brett Associates; Highland Council; the Inverness Common Good Fund; Scottish Waterways Trust; Rabbie’s Trail Burners; Scottish Segway Centre; Loch Ness Centre; Pickering’s Gin; and the Inverness Business Improvement District have also offered their support for the conference.

More information on the conference can be found at

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