IWA Waterways for Today 12 Key Benefits

Waterways for Today is a new report from the Inland Waterways Association, to be published this summer.

The report identifies 12 distinct benefits that demonstrate that transforming canals and rivers can revitalise local economies and improve people's lives, as well as providing significant opportunities for environmental benefits and mitigating then impacts of climate change. Improvements to navigable waterways and the restoration of abandoned canals and rivers can act as the catalyst for wider investment and regeneration.


• BENEFIT 1: CONTRIBUTING TO THE COUNTRY'S ECONOMIC RECOVERY - waterway-regeneration projects can level up rural and urban areas and improve the lives of millions of people.

• BENEFIT 2: INCREASED SPEND IN LOCAL COMMUNITIES - boat-based tourism and leisure activities contribute £2.5bn to the economy each year, with people on day trip; boat holidays and taking part in water-based activities spending even more in local pubs, cafés and shops.

• BENEFIT 3. SAVINGS TO THE NHS AND SOCIAL-CARE BUDGETS - waterways are well placed to improve the health, well-being and longevity of the many people living near them, through increased physical activities and social prescribing.


• BENEFIT 4: PROTECTING AND IMPROVING THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT - waterways are blue-green corridors that allow opportunities for reconnecting disparate habitats, biodiversity net gain and improvements for wildlife.

• BENEFIT 5: WATERWAYS HERITAGE FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS - with their historic buildings and structures, waterways form a vast, open-air heritage network, accessible to everyone and bringing history to life for current and future generations.

• BENEFIT 6: SUSTAINABILITY - planning for resilience and climate change - our waterways face unprecedented challenges from climate change, but they can be part of the solution through adaptation, mitigation and enhancing the natural environment.


• BENEFIT 7: CONNECTING COMMUNITIES - access to the paths that run alongside our waterways is free. These inclusive, flat, linear routes can be used as active travel corridors to connect communities and provide passage between urban and rural areas.

• BENEFIT 8: EDUCATION AND YOUNG PEOPLE - waterways offer opportunities for hands-on learning in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects, as well as the humanities and arts, through outdoor classrooms, visits to local waterways and inter-generational learning.

• BENEFIT 9: JOBS, TRAINING AND APPRENTICESHIPS - waterways offer many opportunities for employment, training and apprenticeships including in the tourism, leisure, hospitality, engineering and construction sectors.


• BENEFIT 10: IMPROVED PHYSICAL HEALTH - waterways open up multiple opportunities for outdoor activities such as walking, running, cycling, fishing, sailing, canoeing, paddleboarding and volunteering.

• BENEFIT 11: IMPROVED MENTAL HEALTH AND WELL BEING - waterways can boost well-being and improve mental health through physical recreation, shared social experiences and connecting with nature.

• BENEFIT 12: CREATING BETTER PLACES TO LIVE - waterside locations create a sense of place that can enhance people's enjoyment of the area they live in. This can encourage greater diversity and inclusivity across local communities.