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2015 Appeal To UNESCO For Venice And Its Lagoon To Be Added To The List Of Endangered World Heritage Sites

Local branches of nationally recognised NGOs – Italia Nostra, FAI and WWF – together with other Venetian associations, and with support from independent and authoritative experts, appeal to UNESCO to put Venice and the Lagoon on the Danger List of World Heritage Sites.

Their joint document to support this was expressly requested by the Delegation of UNESCO, ICOMOS and RAMSAR representatives who visited Venice last October to review the state of conservation of the Site, and its Management Plan, produced by the Municipality in concert with the “responsible bodies”, i.e. local institutions representing different areas of the site and layers of governance ( ).

They focus on a handful of persistently critical aspects threatening the existence and outstanding features of Venice and the Lagoon, together with advancing proposals for effectively addressing the causes of these problems, starting now, and also using currently available legislative instruments.

The key points of the document concern:

  1. Degradation of the Lagoon morphology and functionality: saltmarsh erosion, sediment loss, construction of artificial islands, contaminated landfills, erosion caused by port traffic, wave damage and destructive fishing practices, un-monitored changes in tidal currents, systemic trend towards a gulf of the sea;
  2. Damage caused by large cruiseships in Venice and the dangers of current proposals for cruise traffic that involve additional dredging in the Lagoon, versus the potential to develop other — sustainable — forms of marittime tourism;
  3. The latest tourism figures (overnight and day-trippers) compared with assessments of Venice’s carrying capacity show that the situation has moved far beyond the maximum limit. This compromises quality of life, threatens security and physically damages urban fabric and built heritage. Tourist numbers urgently need to be limited and managed.
  4. Alarming data on the falling number of residents, largely caused by transformation of building uses for tourism-related activities;
  5. Necessary actions to promote and support traditional and innovative productive activities, independent of the “tourism monoculture”, and to encourage permanent residents.

This initiative builds on exchanges during the meeting between local organisations and the Delegation of the World Heritage Committee that took place despite obstruction from the local municipality (that intended to “only invite socio-economic stakeholders”).

A powerful new wave of collaboration has now emerged between different elements of the civil society, and the intention is to pursue this further with the development of concrete proposals and projects to safeguard the future of Venice.

For further information, please download the following pdf files.





vogliamo-veneziaWahV also participated in the flash-event “Vogliamo Venezia” in September 2015 to display how Venetians see the cruiseship problem and demonstrate the need for greater public participation in the decisions affecting Venice’s future. The booklet was prepared specially for the UNESCO Delegation.

Download the booklet

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