Sustainability

Venice and its Lagoon on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Experts from UNESCO's World Heritage Centre have no doubt: Venice and its Lagoon should be placed on the list of World Heritage in Danger. The news came earlier this week and got a lot of coverage in all the media. It also provoked piqued reactions, to be honest, such as those of former mayor Massimo Cacciari, the president of the Venice Foundation World Capital of Sustainability Renato Brunetta, and the City Council itself. So be it: according to the World Heritage Center, the world's most famous city, a UNESCO site since 1987, is at risk, and weighing on its future are mainly climate change and mass tourism.

But what specifically does the recommendation say? "Continued development, the impacts of climate change and mass tourism risk causing irreversible changes to the outstanding universal value" of the city. It therefore "recommends its inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger." Something the UN body's member states will be asked to vote on next month (the meeting is scheduled for Sept. 10-25 in Ryad, Saudi Arabia).

In particular, the World Heritage Centre judges what has been done so far to preserve the Venetian capital as insufficient.

Under the spotlight, in addition to mass tourism and climate change, are the negative impact on the view from buildings that are too high (new water terminals on the mainland, for example) and rising sea levels (Mose). A list of situations that would make one of the most fragile cities in the world even more fragile. Above all, they are judged to be "long-standing but urgent" problems for which a common global strategic vision would be lacking. Hampered, again according to experts, by a lack of effectiveness and coordination between local and national government.

The goal is that, thanks to the inclusion of Venice in the world's endangered heritages, there can and should be a stronger commitment "and a wider mobilization of local, national and international actors."

An ultimatum that is a rallying cry about an increasingly imminent danger. An ultimatum that had already come in 2021 and was withdrawn at the photo finish. Only, unlike two years ago, this time the list of critical issues is longer. Other than the fact that experts have also considered Mestre, with the new railway line to Marco Polo airport, with the new land-water intermodal terminal for fast ships connecting the islands of Burano, Mazzorbo and Torcello to the mainland, but also in new terminals planned in San Giuliano and a new skyscraper also in Mestre.

All that remains is to wait.

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