Gruppo 25 Aprile sends open letter to UNESCO : “Brugnaro has failed to comply with the UNESCO decision on all points”

Mrs Irina Bokova,  Director General UNESCO,

Mr Francesco Bandarin, Assistant Director General,

Aahrus Convention Compliance Committee,

The City Council of Venice (Consiglio comunale di Venezia).


Venice, 23 January 2017

Subject: Your meeting with the City Mayor of Venice, regarding Decision 40 COM 7B.52 of 14 July 2016.

According to the local newspapers, on 24 January you will meet a City Mayor who has until now declined all invitations to inform the City Council (on 19 January), the mass media and his own citizens (on 20 January) about the content of the “package” of measures that he will submit to you, via the Italian Government, with a view to addressing the World Heritage Committee Decision 40 COM 7B.52 adopted at its 40th session in Istanbul on 14 July 2016 on Venice and its Lagoon (hereinafter: “the UNESCO Decision).

According to the City Mayor’s statements to the newspapers, his own project to address point 6 of the UNESCO Decision would consist in the dredging of a new deep canal in the middle of the Lagoon (“canale delle Tresse”) for the largest cruise ships. However, nobody knows the details of such project, which has not even been submitted to EIA, and no follow-up was given until now to points 7 to 10 of the UNESCO Decision as far as we know.

According to the City Mayor’s statement, the “package” should also include measures addressing points 4 and 5 of the above referred Decision, but none of them (assuming that they really exist at preliminary draft stage) has ever been submitted to public consultation nor to the City Council (Consiglio comunale), while some of them (such as urban planning) belong precisely to the exclusive competence of the City Council. Moreover, the “integrated strategy for all ongoing and planned developments” is still missing while point 4 of the Decision requires a “revised planning approach founded on a shared vision of authorities and stakeholders”. The stakeholders have never been consulted on the above package of measures and no information was ever given to the public despite the attached invitation addressed on 28 December 2016 to the City Mayor (annex 1) who declined the invitation by email of 18 January 2017.

We respectfully submit that by so doing the City Mayor is probably:

  1. Failing to comply with the provisions of the Aahrus Convention, ratified by Italy with Act of the Parliament 108 of 16 March 2001. As you know, the UNECE Convention signed in Aahrus empowers the civil society with the right to participate effectively in decision-making on all factors affecting or likely to affect the environment.
  2. Failing to comply with the UNESCO Decision on all points, subject to a scrutiny reservation of the “package of measures” that nobody but the City Mayor seems to know.

Assuming that the meeting will really take place on 24 January and assuming that a “package of measures” really exists at least at a draft stage, compliance with the Aahrus Convention in conjunction with point 4 of the UNESCO Decision of 14 July 2016 would in our opinion require that:

  1. A public consultation procedure is immediately launched on the draft package of measures;
  2. The results of the meeting of 24 January are made available to the public via the appropriate means, including web streaming where appropriate;
  3. The City Council is given a chance to have an orientation debate on the overall package, which is totally unknown to its members.

As far as we are concerned, we have taken the UNESCO Decision so seriously that, with very significant investment in time and energies and without any public funding we have launched a public participation process called “Venice my Future” which resulted in 6 public hearings and meetings in 6 months in each and every venetian district (the 6 “sestieri”) and culminated in the final gathering of 20 January to which the City Mayor was invited well in advance (but declined the invitation).

The result of this process is a document with 20 proposals which was submitted to public consultation for 10 days, and discussed at the “Ateneo Veneto” on 20 January;  its final version is herewith attached (annex 2).  For a better understanding of what “participation” means to venetian citizens, please also find attached some press cuts which give a hint of what we would expect from a City Mayor: the recognition of our right to participate, which is enshrined in the “Statuto comunale” of Venice as well as in the Aahrus Convention.

We remain at your disposal for any further information while reserving our right to lodge a complaint with the domestic competent Courts and/or with the Aahrus Convention Compliance Committee in case our voice is not heard.

Best regards,

Marco Gasparinetti

Spokesperson of #Venicemyfuture


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