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Capacity building is getting bigger attention as a tool to improve the overall performance of many institutions. The expression “capacity building” is a constructive process of acquiring capacities, abilities, or skills. Alaerts (1996, p. 59) defined “capacity” as the “knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values as we find them in individuals, and as they are aggregated in organizations, communities, and in all other forms of arrangements that define individual and collective behavior.” The capacities are an important part of any institution (organization) and play a key role in defining them. ICOMOS (2013) defined capacity building as a constructive process of individuals, organizations, institutions, and societies of acquiring and developing capacities to solve problems and reach the goals. In both definitions, it is possible to identify some keywords that explain objectively the concept: constructive process, collective process, capacity developing to achieve objectives.

Some researchers had various critical questions related to capacity building and suggested to link capacity-building priorities with water scarcity concept, arguing that it will be more effective in addressing water issues (Wolfe and Brooks, 2003). This issue is becoming crucial if we take into consideration global water consumption increased six times in the last century. Moreover, nowadays water scarcity is a major problem for over 40% of the world’s population. It is estimated that if present water consumption patterns continue, global water demand will increase by 55% by 2050 due to the growing demand of various industries and domestic uses (Connor, 2015).

In addition, external factors such as climate change, increasing human impacts on the envir onment will demand the modem skills of the managers to address all those issues. This is the case of the protected areas, where various external pressures on the environment and gr owing demands from public sides are becoming a main issue in management (Teel et al., 2013). The authors discussed the results of the global review prepared for the 1992 World Congr ess on National Parks and Protected Ar eas and expressed their concern on poor management and policy being responsible for the threats rather than external factors in the protected areas. An inadequate legislation, poor management, a lack of staff, and skills demanding modem time have led to the threats in the protected areas. Thus, skilled human resources are needed to preserve the natural resources, among them water, which is crucial today. For example, over the past century economic achievement of South Africa was partially due to the competences and skills of its water managers. However, these achievements were distributed unevenly and most of the nation suffered from an inadequate supply of water resources. Therefore, water legislations and strategies were designed to tiy to address those issues (Colvin et al., 2008). Teel et al. (2013) also argued that multi-institutional partnership can enhance the leadership skills and abilities and technical competences of the managers of the protected areas in the case of India. Following this idea, special attention has to be made for the development of the capacities of the individuals along with capacity building among the institutions.

The importance of capacity building in water management has attracted the attention of the workers in this sector and researchers since the early 1990s (Franks, 1999; Timmer et al., 2007). For example, there were held two conferences on the capacity building process in the water sector in Delft (Alaerts et al., 1996). The first conference was held in 1991, and was dedicated more to explore the concept of capacity building in the water sector, while the second one was organized in 1996 and was concerned with the practical aspects of capacity building, as well as measures and activities which can be appropriate in a practice.

As a result of the first conference the following conclusion on the capacity building concept has been drawn: the capacity building consists of three elements, related to the creation of a favorable environment with appropriate policy and legal frameworks; development of human resource and improvement of managerial systems; as well as institutional development, including involvement of the community.

The second conference draw the practical results such as, decentralization and privatizationpolicies, regulation of water prices and tariffs, improvements of the administrative procedur es, development of human resources through education, training, networking, equipment of the libraries, etc. (Franks, 1999). As an outcome of the conference, human resources development, specifically improvement of skills, abilities, and competences of water managers have been considered as essential component of the capacity building, hi this context, some literature mentioned the role of environmental education in the process of capacity building (Echevarria et al., 2013). However at the same time, we should keep in mind that focusing on only in development of human resources could be insufficient toward capacity building issues, also the development infrastructure for waters sector is essential. This is the case of historical areas, where its water landscape and cultur al heritage are of high importance. Moreover, taken into consideration the increasing niterest in cultural heritage among the tourists.

Growth of tourism and increasing pressures from urbanization in historical sites have created the need for an integrated approach to address the interactions among human activities and respect water resources of the area. Furthermore, historical sites have been widely recognized as essential economic resources in many countries. In this context, special attention is given to the cities, as the points favorable for infrastructure development, services, etc. This indicates the conservation of the urban landscape from cultural and historical perspectives. However, it should be noted that conservation of urban heritage and its water resources is not only important for its historical value but also for its potential to developing cultural and heritage tourism, which is one of the fast-increasing industries today. For example, World Bank's projects aim to support the conservation and management of cultural heritage assets (Ebbe, 2009). Therefore, the importance of preservation of water resources in historical places through capacity building process increases. Since an essential role of capacity building in water resources conservation, in general, have been already recognized.

Analyzing previous literature, we can observe that the importance of capacity building experience for coastal managers also has been emphasized (Echevarria et al., 2013), while others discussed its role for the managers of protected areas (Teel et al., 2013). Some authors discussed the application of capacity building in drinking water protection (Timmer et al., 2007).

Agrowing interest in application capacity building in water management can be explained by the increasing pressure on the environment and water resources. This is the case of Uruguay, where the development of various activities such as tourism, agriculture, transportation as w’ell as the growth of population has made additional pressure on coastal zones. Unfortunately, not all consumers frilly understand the priceless value of the coastal environment and the needs of its preservation (Echevarria et al., 2013). Therefore, in the integrated coastal zone management approach the key role of capacity building in improving the skills and abilities of the planners and managers in guaranteeing sustainable management of water has been highlighted.

However, at the same time, in the case of the water sector, it is also true that this sector has a huge coverage, starting simply from the provision of drinking water for humanity, water supply for food and irrigation (Franks, 1999), as well as being natural and cultural heritage of any nation. Thus, water managers can face certain challenges in management issues due to the needs to understand natural, ecological, social, and cultural factors.

Based on above-mentioned discussions, we can conclude that the role of capacity building in water resources preservation in historical sites is essential. First, the key players in the capacity building process of the water sector should be defined. Then, improving skills and competences in better and effective management should be of interest to the managers, planners, and decision-makers, while raising the knowledge in the protection of water resources should be applied for the local people. Moreover, the supportive policies and favorable environment should provide opportunities to apply capabilities, skills, and competences of waters sector workers.


During the last decade, tourism in Portugal has experienced remarkable evolution. The impressive growth of the tourism industry in Portugal can be largely accomplished at the great expense of environmental quality. One of the rich heritage sites of Portugal is the historical city of Guimaraes. This town is an ancient city of Portugal that inherited a rich traditional urban heritage for many years and should effectively use its historical and cultural advantage to enhance its image. The number of visitors to this historical site is increasing every year. Therefore, it is a good time to improve and restore the cultural and natural landscapes of its ancient city such as Guimaraes, particularly its water landscape. Therefore, it should be of interest for the authorities and local people to take positive steps toward this process.

Guimaraes is a city of Northern Portugal, implanted in the Region of Minho, genesis of nationality and with a strong symbolic significance for the country (Fig. 1.1). The tradition says that the first king of Portugal, D. Afonso Henriques was bom in Guimaraes. It belongs to a territory dominated by the hydrographic region of the river Cavado, in the North, and hydrographic influence of the river Leca. in the South, which control an area of3584 km2 (Soares, 2016). Within this area, highlight the hydr ographic basin of the river Ave and the river Vizela, which delimit the county of Guimaraes and it will be more relevant to our analysis.

The Ave basin covers an area of 1391 km2, and is located in the zone of greater density population in the region. The Ave River is the largest watercourse in this area, and is bom in the Cabreira Mountain at 1200 m of altitude. From here to its estuary in the Atlantic Ocean, crosses 101 km through a rugged and fertile territory. Its main tributaries are the river Este, on the right bank and the Vizela River, on the left bank (Soares, 2016). The whole region is rich in watercourses that fill a capillary web that extends throughout the region of Minho. It also has the highest precipitation levels in the country.

It is therefore a city with historical, cultural, and social prominence; over the tune, that represents a remarkable synthesis of the national identity and the values of authenticity associated with it. It belongs to the district of Braga and its territory is included in the NUT III Ave sub-region.

Map with Guimaraes location

FIGURE 1.1 Map with Guimaraes location.

Source: Authors’ own compilation.

The Guimaraes notoriety began in the Medieval Age, more concretely in the territorial reorganization of the Portucalense County (10th-11 th century) and the future territory of Portugal (12th century). In the first period, the presence and influence of Countess Mumadona Dias, the aunt of King D. Ramiro II of Leon and widow of Count Hennenegildo Goncalves, a tutelary figure of the city, were noted and influenced by both; the consolidation of the territory, or in the design of the medieval city. On the one hand, she led the creation of a convent to be built in the village of Vimaranes, on the other; she supports a castle, between 959 and 968, to defend this territory, to be erected on an adjacent hill (Ferreira, 2010). These two fundamental axes will be, henceforth, the poles of fixation of the people and the later development of Guimaraes. From these crucial poles, the village will develop around Vila Baixa (where the convent and the settlement were located), and Vila Alta, where the military power was preserved symbolized by the tutelary presence of the castle. Both will remain, with numerous changes produced during 1000 years of history, in the urban landscape of the city, having persisted until the present day (Ferreira, 2010).

Later, in the second half of the 11th century, in pursuit of a strategy and consolidation the territory of the Portucalense county, Alfonso VI of Leon and Castile, grants to a knight of the Burgundy, the count D. Henrique, the government of the Portucalense Province has, for the purpose, married his daughter D. Teresa with this knight. From this union, was bom in 1111, D. Afonso Henriques who would become the first Portuguese monarch (Mattoso, 1985). It is significant the importance of Guimaraes in the territory of Portucale and the primacy it held among the other villages. This primacy will be accentuated during the early years of D. Afonso Henriques when he intends to support the independence of the Portucalense county, against the claiming power of Leon and Castile that wanted to force the medieval legal/pohtical principle of submission that was expressed at the time, through the rite of homage and vassalage of the local nobility to the king (Mattoso, 1985).

With the evolution of the city and the new defense requirements, the two villages—Alta and Baixa—were merged through a walled enclosure that incorporated the two urban settlements. This intramural nucleus will melt the two villages, becoming one agglomerate, and will remain, with few urban changes after the 15th century, nowadays.

It is this intramural complex that will be recognized by UNESCO in 2001 as World Heritage due to the historical, social, and patrimonial value that it preserves and that allows an integrated understanding from the Middle Ages to the present day (Fig. 1.2).


FIGURE 1.2 Areas of protection and cultural heritage. Source: Authors’ own compilation.

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