World Economic Forum celebrates health research

On World Water Day, The World Economic Forum recognised research carried out by Glasgow Caledonian University in partnership with Scottish Canals, which linked the regeneration of the Forth and Clyde Canal in North Glasgow to improved health and wellbeing.

On World Water Day, The World Economic Forum recognised research carried out by Glasgow Caledonian University in partnership with Scottish Canals, which linked the regeneration of the Forth and Clyde Canal in North Glasgow to improved health and wellbeing.

The World Economic Forum took to Instagram to showcase the work with their impressive 3.8m followers across the globe. The Instagram post which racked up an incredible 400,000 views within the first 24 hours of going live was then shared on the front page of their website.

“I am delighted that the World Economic Forum has showcased the health and wellbeing benefits globally of regenerating canals and blue spaces on World Water Day.

“Scottish Canals and our partners at Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow City Council and elsewhere have driven a multi-million pound regeneration initiative along the Forth & Clyde Canal in North Glasgow over the past 20 years.  We have seen that creating a safer, more welcoming and easy to access blue and green space has directly helped to tackle health inequalities among those communities lining the canal banks.”

“What is so exciting is that this collaboration shows other towns and cities around the world that investing in blue spaces, such as canals, can generate significant social returns that not only benefit individuals but society as a whole.”

Catherine Topley, CEO of Scottish Canals

The body of work carried out in partnership between both organisations highlight the wider health benefits of all blue spaces while part of the research, a global first funded by The Data Lab, revealed a 3% decline in mortality rates over a 20-year period in communities that live within 500m of a canal that has undergone major transformation.

The Glasgow research looked at the impact of regeneration along the Forth & Clyde Canal in North Glasgow – one of Europe’s most deprived areas – and highlighted the significant physical and mental wellbeing benefits that can be achieved from investing in regenerating urban waterways globally.

It was revealed that the regeneration of canals and rivers in cities around the world can positively impact health and health inequalities – leading to a decrease in mortality rates in surrounding locations and reducing the gap between deprived and affluent communities.

Sebastien Chastin, Professor in Health Behaviour Dynamics at Glasgow Caledonian University who led the research, said: “Internationally, World Water Day is a chance to look back over the last year and recognise the success and innovation of scientists, water management and those who have contributed to the sector globally.”

Michail Georgiou, PhD researcher at Glasgow Caledonian University, said: “I am honoured that The World Economic Forum has chosen to celebrate Glasgow Caledonian University’s study on urban blue spaces as a highlight of the previous year. With canals and rivers flowing through many towns and cities globally and more than two thirds of the world’s population forecast to live in a urban area by 2050, this research shows the scale of impact that can be achieved by investing intelligently in blue and green spaces.”

Today, 55% of the global population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050. Waterways are part of the urban fabric of most cities, as can be found in Scotland where 1.5 million people live within 3km of a canal.

The next phase of Glasgow Caledonian University’s study will analysis the impact the regeneration of the Forth and Clyde Canal in North Glasgow has had on non-communicable diseases. You can read the Glasgow research paper here, to read the wider research on green and blue spaces please click here.

Notes to Editors

For further information, please contact:

Scott Lamond at Scottish Canals on 07976524446 or email

Josie Saunders at Scottish Canals on 07881816283 or email

For all the latest updates on the Union Canal breach please follow @scottishcanals

Notes to editor:

  1. Scottish Canals
  • Scottish Canals is responsible to the Scottish Government for the management and development of the Forth & Clyde, Union, Monklands, Caledonian and Crinan Canals as well as the surrounding estate and The Falkirk Wheel. See or follow @ScottishCanals for more information
  • Built two hundred years ago to fire the Industrial Revolution, today the 137-miles of Scotland’s canals contribute to the Scottish Government agenda of developing a Greener; Healthier; Smarter; Safer and Stronger; and Wealthier and Fairer Scotland by acting as a catalyst for sustainable economic development, regeneration and tourism
  • Today Scottish Canals is utilising these 18th century assets along with innovative technology to tackle modern problems. Through working with partners to create pioneering systems, Scottish Canals is helping to combat flooding and driving positive transformation in some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas
  • The Forth & Clyde, Union, Monkland, Caledonian and Crinan canals are recognised as Scheduled Monuments and attract 22 million visits per year.


  1. Glasgow Caledonian University

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) is a vibrant, innovative and multi-award winning University for the Common Good. We aim to contribute to society in a manner that embraces yet goes beyond the traditional role of a university. GCU’s For the Common Good commitment is brought to life and delivered by students and staff across academic schools and departments.

Our world-leading and internationally excellent research addresses societal challenges to help people to build inclusive societies and lead healthy lives in sustainable environments.

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