Venice In Crisis: UNESCO’s Ultimatum

In August 2016 UNESCO issued a report reflecting their ‘extreme concern’ at the state of development and tourism in Venice, and the dire threat to the fragile city. In the absence of significant changes, UNESCO will recommend that Venice be listed on the List of the World Heritage in Danger.

This should be the alarm bell to all who love Venice to take action and help grow international pressure for action in Venice.

The text of the UNESCO declaration follows:

UNESCO World Heritage Centre – Decision – 40COM 7B.52

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.27, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Expresses its extreme concern that the combination of previous developments, ongoing transformations and proposed projects within the property which are threatening serious deterioration of the eco and cultural systems of the Lagoon and irreversible changes to the overall relationship between the City and its Lagoon, as well as the loss of architectural and town-planning coherence of the historic city, all of which would lead to substantive and irreversible loss of authenticity and integrity;
  4. Considers that the property requires an immediate improvement to the planning tools available through the creation of:
    1. an integrated strategy for all on-going and planned developments within the property,
    2. a three-dimensional morphological model and
    3. a sustainable tourism strategy,
      all of which should be reflected in an updated Management Plan for the property; this revised planning approach should also be founded on a shared vision of authorities and stakeholders which affords priority to sustaining the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and its landscape and seascape setting;
  5. Reiterates its request to the State Party to enforce speed limits and regulate the number and type of boats in the Lagoon and in the canals;
  6. Also reiterates its request to the State Party to adopt, as a matter of urgency, a legal document introducing prohibition of the largest ships and tankers to enter the Lagoon and requests the State Party to put in place all necessary strategic, planning and management frameworks to this end;
  7. Also requests the State Party to halt all new projects within the property, prior to the mid-term assessment of the Management Plan, and the submission of details of proposed developments, together with Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), to the World Heritage Centre, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  8. Endorses the recommendations of the 2015 mission and further requests the State Party to fully implement these recommendations;
  9. Requests furthermore the State Party to revise the proposed buffer zone for the property in line with the ICOMOS technical review and submit it to the World Heritage Centre as a minor boundary modification, by 1 December 2016, for examination by the Committee at its 41st session in 2017;
  10. Finally requests that the State Party implement all urgent measures highlighted in the mission report and submit to the World Heritage Committee a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, by 1 February 2017 for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017, with a view, if no substantial progress is accomplished by the State Party until then, to consider inscribing the property on the List of the World Heritage in Danger.

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