[Ed. Note: what follows is the Press Release for the SOS Venezia campaign just launched by a group of Venetian associations.]
Venezia, 16 July 2021
SOS Venezia is the appeal we are launching today, 16 July, to coincide with the opening of the session of the World Heritage Committee. The agenda for this annual session includes the case of Venice, which with its Lagoon could, in theory, end up on the list of endangered sites, after a decision in this direction has already been postponed several times. But our message is not only directed at UNESCO.
At almost one year since the creation of an “Authority for the Lagoon of Venice” (7 August 2020), this Authority remains on paper only, and has not yet been established. The Region, Municipality and Metropolitan City use Venice as an international showcase for big events or as a brand to exploit, but they have done little or nothing to respond to the daily needs of those who live here.
While commentators’ attention seems to be monopolized by the subject of “grandi navi”, people who live or work in Venice know that there are other unresolved problems: first of all the continuous loss of residents and jobs in a city made uninhabitable due to the unavailability of housing and work opportunities that are not connected to the tourism monoculture, the impoverishment of the social fabric and the gutting of essential services such as Healthcare and local Public Transportation, aggravated by the failure to recognize the Special Statute which would allow identifying and implementing specific solutions that can protect the uniqueness of the site.
The very idea of entry gates with an entry fee, pursued by the current Mayor, only confirms the city’s transformation into a paid theme park, progressively emptied of all the functions that still allow it to be called a city.
The Lagoon, which has surrounded and protected Venice for centuries, is still under threat: considered as territory to attack and bend to interests unrelated to its preservation. Instead it is an asset, all of which is bound and protected by the Special Law, not just the bacino di San Marco, which by decree has become a “national monument”. The Lagoon is 6,000 years old; Venice arose in the Lagoon and with the Lagoon. Protecting it is the duty of us Venetians and of all who love Venice.
The opinion campaign “SOS Venezia” will continue until 31 July and has begun with sheets and banners symbolically hung in windows and balconies; it is aimed at the mass media who can shine light on the cones of shadow and not content themselves with seeing only the tip of the iceberg (the grandi navi); it is an appeal to all the Institutions and territorial entities whose decisions can forge, for better or for worse, our future.
Venice risks losing its soul, in a Faustian bargain with a speculation that reduces everything to a question of money. Time is running out, for a city that has seen its population fall from 150,000 residents in 1959 to 50,000 today, and this is why we have chosen to use the international sign “SOS: Save Our Souls”: save our soul, before it is too late.
FAI Delegazione di Venezia
G25A (Gruppo 25 Aprile)
Gruppo WSM (viva San Marco)
Italia Nostra sezione di Venezia
Movimento Autonomia Venezia