Venice in UNESCO’s “World Heritage in Danger” List?

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    Rowing boat with two people on the fondamenta della sensa at sunset, with a wooden bridge on the background.

    In the past years, several heritage protection organisations in Italy as well as Venetian organizations have contacted UNESCO claiming that a crisis point had been reached in the city, and warned that local authorities were no longer capable of protecting Venice.

    As a consequence, in October 2015, experts from UNESCO/ICOMOS/RAMSAR reached Venice to proceed to a reactive monitoring mission on “Venice and its lagoon”, as requested by the World Heritage Committee, to assess current conditions at the property.

    UNESCO published in July 2016 the resulting consultative report, which was then discussed at the UNESCO meeting in Istanbul from the 10th to the 20th of July. Righteously, the report confirms that Venice is at threat and calls for immediate improvements!

    By the 1st of February 2017, UNESCO required:
    – the creation of a sustainable tourism strategy
    – the regulation of the speed, number and type of boats entering the Lagoon, as short-term measures.
    – the future prohibition, of the largest ships and tankers entering the Lagoon.
    – the suspension of all new projects permits prior to the assessment of the Management Plan and prior to submission of details to the World Heritage Centre.

    Unesco’s Threat could be summarized as follows:

    “Should these mandatory improvements not be met by February 2017, the UNESCO Committee considers adding Venice and its lagoon to the List of the ‘World Heritage in Danger’ at its 41st session in 2017!”

    The ‘World Heritage in Danger’ list includes sites ‘under serious and specific dangers’ where ‘major operations are necessary and for which assistance has been requested under this Convention.’

    A quick look at the sites included in the list shows that most of the sites already considered in dangers are either in war or poaching zones and that Venice would be the first of all the cultural sites of what’s commonly seen as the western world to enter it, after the mercantile maritime city of Liverpool…

    If Venice, at the time of the Republic, continuously distinguished itslef from the rest of the World thanks to its innovation and breakthrough, we’re afraid that, this time, there is nothing to be proud of!

    As of 2023, we can state that this significant and important move from the UNESCO Committee didn’t help reverse the current trend and that the future that lies ahead is not looking bright. Not at all.

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