What do we do?

What do we do?2019-03-20T16:06:23+00:00

We are a Network of like-minded canal, river and lake waterway operators and promoters who have come together to celebrate and promote the economic, social and environmental benefits of Europe’s Inland Waterways. We:

  • celebrate and promote the economic, social and environmental benefits of European Inland Waterways to regional, national and European institutions and partners, though project development and delivery, knowledge transfer and strategic engagement.
  • monitor and disseminate among the partners information on European policy development and EU programmes relevant to improving and promoting European Inland Waterways and their local economies and communities.
  • support NIWE members in taking part in European initiatives and facilitate their participation in European funding programmes, collectively and separately, including by facilitating expert panel and partner matching for EU programme participation.
  • promote the exchange of experience and knowledge transfer of innovative services, approaches, products and technologies across NIWE and among other relevant organisations and potential members, including organisations representing the private (recreational) waterways sector and the research and technology sector.
  • promote stronger engagement with the EU institutions to ensure that the sustainable development potential of European Inland Waterways is fully understood and fully reflected in EU economic, social and environmental policy and programme development.
  • work with national and international institutions and organisations to achieve all of this, evidencing the economic, social, environmental and heritage importance of European Inland Waterways to achieving regional, national and European policy and programme objectives.

Past Projects


Numericanal aimed to connect the Regional & National strengths and experience of six partners active in the field of ICT and waterways management, to create a transnational strategy for the development of eservices, information and communications along smaller dimension waterways.

The project identified ways to reduce costs and increase efficiencies in the management of these waterways across North West Europe through implementation of innovative ICT based approaches and tools. It ranuntil September 2015 and in this time we formed partnerships with stakeholders with expertise in this field and set up events to inform the public of our findings.

Waterways for Growth

Navigable inland waterways – rivers, canals and lakes – form a distinctive feature of the region surrounding the North Sea. Most waterways were made navigable and developed for freight transport reasons. Many still perform this function, particularly in terms of connecting North Sea ports with their hinterland. On other waterways, other functions have become more important, particularly tourism and recreation. From a European and often national policy perspective, inland waterways are often considered purely in terms of their transport function. In reality they form a multi-functional green infrastructure resource, delivering a wide range of services to society – economic, social and environmental.

Waterways for Growth was a project developed under the Interreg IVB North Sea Region programme which explored these issues. The project ran from 2009 – 2012 and brought together 14 partners from 6 countries surrounding the North Sea – Belgium (Flanders), Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom (see Appendix). Partners included national waterway agencies, regional and local authorities and tourism development bodies. The project was led by Canal & River Trust (formerly British Waterways), the main national inland waterway authority in England and Wales.

Waterways for Growth was supported by pilot actions carried out in the partner areas under three themes;  Business and product development, Waterway regeneration and Sustainable management of the waterways.
A key overall output of the project was the development of a transnational Framework for the sustainable development of inland waterways. Drawing upon the project results, this suggested a way forward for the on-going development of the region’s waterways, by building on their multi-functional role.