New York State has been selected by Inland Waterways International as the host of the 2025 World Canals Conference, an event that brings together hundreds of canal and inland waterway enthusiasts, professionals and scholars from around the world to learn about a variety of topics related to canals.
The World Canals Conference is a key component of a comprehensive, four-month celebration of the Erie Canal’s bicentennial planned at the historic Buffalo waterfront between May and September of 2025. The event will highlight Buffalo’s transformed waterfront Canalside district, which has recently seen more than $400 million in new investment including new hotels, a major sports arena, a children’s museum, retail shops and a fabulous, re-created waterway on the footprint of the original Erie Canal in the Queen City. Today, Buffalo’s Canalside attracts more than 1 million people annually.
The conference program will be focused on how canals and inland waterways are linked with the social, cultural and economic fiber of their surrounding communities. Accordingly, the event will be structured to embrace discussion of the innovations, opportunities and challenges which are driving healthy and sustainable waterways of the world today. Sessions on waterways and communities, tourism and recreation, waterway management, historic preservation, and inclusion and accessibility will comprise a diverse and compelling conference agenda. International attendees will mark the indelible impact the Erie Canal has brought to North America and beyond and will be able to chart the course for a vibrant and promising future to be shared by inland waterways across the globe.
The upcoming conference in Buffalo will mark the fourth time in recent years that New York State has hosted this international event. It was previously held in Rochester in 2000 and 2010, and again in Syracuse in 2017 which marked the 200 years since the start of construction of the Erie Canal in 1817. Specific details regarding the 2025 World Canals Conference will be announced as conference planning gets underway.
The New York Power Authority, New York State Canal Corporation, and the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, in partnership with the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation and Visit Buffalo Niagara, are the joint sponsors and will be coordinating all aspects of the conference.
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Photo of Erie Canal in Buffalo by Joe Cascio.