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Acqua Alta: One Year On

WahV marked the first anniversary of the disastrous 2019 floods in Venice with the following message:



On this day one year ago, Venice was hit by a violent storm, resulting in the worst flooding since 1966. No-one escaped the consequences: some people’s lives were irreversibly damaged and a number of businesses and artisanal workshops have since closed forever.

report on the meteorological dynamics was produced jointly by the different institutions engaged in monitoring and research regarding water level trends; it concluded that the flooding was the result of a particularly rare and dangerous combination of weather conditions and signals an improvement in the institutional tensions obstructing the scientific basis for policy making in Venice.

In the days following the flooding, WahV was overwhelmed by media from all over the world. We expressed our outrage at the lingering failures and corruption associated with the MOSE flood barrier project, and renewed our call for accountable governance in order to prevent a similar disaster from taking place ever again.

Over the last year we have continued campaigning for improved governance — engaging with experts, community representatives and interest groups to better understand long-term policy options to prevent flooding; and we have continued raising awareness of the lagoon’s unique ecology and the challenges posed by over-shipping and sea level rise. We held a fundraising concert for Pellestrina, which was particularly devastated by the storm. Our project to demonstrate the importance of the salt marsh in the lagoon for sequestering carbon is making progress.

We are working closely with the newly-founded Global Cruise Activist Network, which unites organisations like ours with other activists across the world to jointly call for reform of the cruise industry. Both Venice’s fame and particular vulnerability help the push for tighter sustainability standards for cruising everywhere.

Moving forwards, we are still pushing for increased, impartial scrutiny of the MOSE project: though it has now worked on a few occasions, questions remain about its final completion, when it will be used, costs and overall responsibility for maintenance and operations and, last but not least, ongoing, reliable monitoring of the environmental impacts and mitigating measures.

We will continue our work to contribute to a more resilient, better-understood Venice – for the Venetians and for the world.

This time last year many people generously sent support via PayPal. A lot has happened since, but if you are still reading this you must also truly care about Venice and are interested in our efforts – so we hope that you might consider making a donation. Your support will enable us to continue working for Venice and make a real difference for people living in the city.

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