Venice no longer risks losing UNESCO status

Venice and its lagoon environment avoided being inscribed on UNESCO’s list of endangered world heritage sites on Thursday following Italy’s ban on large cruise ships passing through the city’s historic center. Preservation groups immediately criticized the decision of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.

The committee, which is meeting in China, instead asked Italy to submit by December 2022 an update on efforts to protect Venice from excessive tourism, population decline and other issues that will be discussed at a meeting in 2023.

The Italian government decided this month to avoid the hazard designation, pledging to redirect huge cruise ships from August 1 from the city’s historic center to an industrial port still in the Venetian Lagoon. The passage of ships through the St. Mark’s Basin and the Giudecca Canal, which recently resumed after a long pandemic hiatus, was one of the reasons cited by UNESCO for classifying Venice’s status as at risk.

Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini hailed UNESCO’s decision and praised the government’s recent decision to ban ships over 25,000 tonnes from the waterways of Venice facing St. Mark’s Basilica and at the Doge’s Palace.

“Now the global attention to Venice must remain high, and it is everyone’s duty to work for the protection of the lagoon and to identify a sustainable development path for this unique reality,” Franceschini said in a statement.

But nongovernmental groups acting as observers of the process said the cruise ship ban concerned only one of the many issues threatening Venice, including overtourism, the management of cultural and natural resources and the control of the cruise ship. Urban development.

The groups also said the temporary decision to dock cruise ships in the industrial port of Marghera still endangers the lagoon and that no long-term plan has yet been developed to manage ships and tourism in the lagoon. the city.

“The persistent problems plaguing the precarious state of conservation of Venice and its lagoon have long been associated with a complex and ineffective governance framework,” Stephan Doempke, President of World Heritage Watch, told the UNESCO committee. “It lacks a long-term vision and a strategy involving the local community. “

Mass tourism to Venice peaked at some 25 million individual visitors in 2019, when the city has a population of just over 50,000.

The UNESCO World Heritage Center last month recommended adding Venice to the endangered species list in order to alert the international community to the urgency of the city’s situation. Center director Mechtild Roessler told The Associated Press the designation is meant to foster a response that will help protect important risky sites at risk and resolve issues.

Yet such designation is widely seen as a rebuke of the local management of World Heritage sites, places which UNESCO recognizes for their outstanding universal value to humanity.

>> Next: Can Venice prevent a postpandemic recovery in overtourism?

Comments are closed.