25 Aprile nominated for Chair of new Mediterranean Network
By Eugenio Pendolini
20 October 2018
VENEZIA. The 25 Aprile Association has been made Chair of the civic Network of the Eastern Mediterranean that brings together six cities recognized as World Heritage sites by UNESCO. Participating in the group along with Venice are the associations Riches di Rodi, exArtis di Paphos (Cyprus), Crete, Srd JeGrad of Dubrovnik and Corfu, where the official formalizing of their work took place this morning, at the Ionian Academy. These cities have several characteristics in common. Apart from the UNESCO designation, they have comparable numbers of inhabitants; they are coastal or island cities; they live with the daily suffocation by mass tourism, with a social fabric that is being torn apart.
The foundations of the new civic organization which connects Venice to Cyprus (the Chairmanship of which will renew every twelve months) were laid out during the meeting on tourism and livability held at Ateneo Veneto last April. “We lacked a civic network among European cities”, commented the representatives of the Venetian group, “With the experience we’ve gained in the past few years we feel we can give a voice to the citizens who live in these sites”.
The lagoon city, together with the 25 Aprile Association, was chosen because it is a “paradigm” of the consequences of tourism left out of control. However it is also an emblem of citizens’ resistance through numerous initiatives over the past few years. The objective now is far more ambitious: to make the voice of residents heard by international institutions. In the first ten days of July 2019, at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, UNESCO will have to decide if Venice is “back in line” enough to not lose the designation of World Heritage Site. The countermeasures put in place by Ca’ Farsetti over the past years to control the phenomenon of tourism will be placed under the magnifying glass. Otherwise Venice will end up among the “Endangered Sites” list. The City must present its report by 31 December. “And we”, continue the volunteers of the citizens’ group, “will evaluate it without prejudice and without preconceptions. However if we find that the requests of residents remain ignored, we will make our voice heard”. Among the tools to be used there is the possibility of being allowed to present rebuttals to the official reports. It’s enough just to demonstrate the civic activity that has been undertaken in the area. “If necessary, we will fly to Azerbaijan as volunteers, at our own expense”, they clarify, “because we want, for once, that those speaking about the problems of Venice are also those who live closest to them: the residents”.
Source: La Nuova Venezia, 20 October 2018