Venice is safe for now: avoided World Heritage in Danger listing

Venice is out of UNESCO's World Heritage in Danger for the time being. But it still has a long way to go to get back on track.

Venice at the moment has managed to avoid the shame of World Heritage in Danger listing that was feared just a few weeks ago. Indeed, during the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee, underway until July 31 in Fuzhou, China, it was decided not to include the lagoon capital among the threatened sites. And this, says Unesco, thanks to an amendment proposed by Ethiopia (one of the 21 countries of the Committee that had to express an opinion on the case): through this intervention, the paragraph that called for the inclusion in the List of endangered Unesco sites was deleted.

Unesco, however, lets it be known that Venice remains a special watchdog: it will have to develop a clear proposal to solve its various problems (besides the passage of large ships) and a series of corrective measures to be applied in a specific time frame, in consultation with the World Heritage Center and its advisory bodies, and then to be submitted for review at the 46th session of the World Heritage Committee. In addition, by December 1, 2022, Venice will also need to submit an updated report on the state of conservation and the application of planned measures.

The Italian government attributes the Committee’s decision to the progress achieved in fulfilling the recommendations made by international bodies, thus avoiding Danger List listings that had initially been contemplated. In particular, the reference is to Decree-Law No. 103 of July 20, 2021, which prohibits, as of August 1, 2021, the transit of ships over 25,000 gross tons (UNESCO indicated a limit of 40,000 tons) from the Bacino di San Marco, Canale di San Marco and Canale della Giudecca. Added to this is the progress made on procedures for the construction of at least four temporary docking points for large ships in the Marghera area, appointing, for this purpose, an Extraordinary Commissioner.

Also according to the government, the Committee appreciated the comprehensive picture of the actions put in place by the country, which also includes the strategy outlined for the identification of structural and definitive solutions with the publication, on June 29, of the call for ideas and projects related to proposals for docking the largest ships outside the lagoon. The committee also noted the progress made in managing the consequences of the exceptional high tide winds of 2019 and in the advancements of the MOSE system, now nearly completed and practically in operation, for which the government has identified significant additional resources for completion, maintenance, and environmental and landscape compensation measures. In Unesco’s view, however, there remain many priorities that Venice must solve, first and foremost sustainable tourism, incentives for residency, quality of commercial activities, and finalization of environmental planning.

“Averted the inscription of Venice in the list of the World Heritage in Danger,” the Minister of Culture, Dario Franceschini, said in this regard. “Thanks to the government’s decisions on blocking the passage of large ships in front of St. Mark’s and the Giudecca Canal, a first, important result has been achieved. Now Franceschini concluded - the world’s attention on Venice must remain high and it is the duty of everyone to work for the protection of the lagoon and to identify a sustainable development path for this unique reality, in which culture and creative industry are called to play a leading role.” However, the danger is only momentarily averted: it will have to be seen how Italy will engage in the months to come.

Venice is safe for now: avoided World Heritage in Danger listing
Venice is safe for now: avoided World Heritage in Danger listing

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