UNESCO extends deadline again – until Feb. 2020

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Venice still at risk of placement on “endangered list”. An extension is granted until 1 February 2020, but the State and City must provide “concrete” responses about the safeguarding of the lagoon.

By Gloria Bertasi

25 May 2019

VENEZIA. They were supposed to decide in July, at the plenary session of the World Heritage Committee. But it won’t be this way, because the UNESCO commissioners will vote on a document (the official draft of which has already been published) that is tough and severe, but which nevertheless grants another year, until 1 February 2020, to Italy and the lagoon to put things in order. The lagoon remains “on formal notice” and the danger of ending up on the list of endangered sites has not yet been avoided, as the City and the government had hoped.

The problems

The problem? State and local administrations have punctually responded to the problem areas raised by the international organization (tourist overcrowding, exodus of residents, and cruise ships are among the subjects at the center of the UNESCO report from 2016). However the responses are lacking in concrete facts with which they can evaluate the projects set down in black and white in the dossier sent to UNESCO. That is, the guidelines are spelled out in the Pact for Venice and in the document regarding the management of the flow of tourists, however the so-called “road map” for the projects has yet to be completed.

Critical issues found

“The dossier that was sent to us – we read in the draft – includes detailed responses. Despite this, it raises concerns about the lack of active communication from the State”. And again, “regarding cruise ship a path has been outlined but a timetable and a complete project are still absent”. About MoSE, “the work is not yet completed”. Thus, in closing, the Committee emphasizes: “The State must provide a detailed “road map” and the timing of the Management Plan’s progression needs to be clarified: implementation of the of the site’s conservation status remains a neccessity in order to maintain its authenticity and integrity, and to avoid being included on the list of at-risk sites”.

Italia Nostra critical

Italia Nostra Venezia, however, is not satisfied; quite the opposite. “UNESCO ignores the fact that regarding the cruise ships there is nothing – they ignore the fact that there are projects with serious impact such as the Gpl plant at Chioggia, or the embankments of the Malamocco-Marghera canal: they prefer to close their eyes”

Source: Corriere della Sera


[Ed. Note: Italia Nostra was not the only group to voice its displeasure with UNESCO’s announcement. What follows is an excerpt from Gruppo 25 Aprile’s Press Release:]


“We welcome this announcement with a (bitter) smile because the World Heritage Committee, the sole body empowered to place Venice on the list of endangered UNESCO sites, meets only once a year, and they do that in JULY – thus they will announce the decision only AFTER the city elections of 2020.

In other words, this further extension appears to have been dictated only by the political choice to not “disturb” the current Mayor, who has already declared that he will run for re-election in 2020.

The necessary conditions for a decision or at least for a discussion were already present in 2017. That train has left, and it is not coming back. Even less could it (positively) affect the commitments of the Mayoral candidates in 2020, given that when the verdict arrives in July (absent further extensions) whoever was elected in June will be able to take it easy, having a 5 year mandate ahead of them.”

Source: http://www.gruppo25aprile.org


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