Battered by tourists, how Venice is trying to fight a UNESCO World Heritage 'blacklist'

DailyBiteAug 02, 2023 | 16:03

Battered by tourists, how Venice is trying to fight a UNESCO World Heritage 'blacklist'

UNESCO warns of listing Venice as endangered World Heritage site. Photo: Representative

Venice was long known as the city of love and as "La Serenissima" or "very serene". But now Venice is far from serene. In the latest, UNESCO has suggested that the picturesque Italian city be added to the endangered World Heritage list.

UNESCO in a statement said that the city is on the verge of "irreversible" damage owing to overdevelopment, tourism rush and climate change leading to floods. The UN body has warned Italian authorities of the city being placed on the World Heritage blacklist if they don't take immediate measures. 

The effects of the continuing deterioration due to human intervention, including continuing development, the impacts of climate change and mass tourism threaten to cause irreversible changes to the outstanding universal value of the property.

UNESCO also said that there has been a lack of strategic vision and progress by Italy to address the number of issues affecting Venice. 

World Heritage Sites in danger

  • Currently, there are 55 World Heritage sites globally on the endangered list. And several more that UNESCO is monitoring. 
  • Adding Venice to the danger list has been in discussions for a while. While some are in favour of the move, others are not. 
  • Venice's former mayor, Massimo Cacciari, criticised UNESCO for only using words and not acting on the problems.
  • Cacciari said that UNESCO is "one of the most expensive and useless bodies on the face of the earth", which passes judgment without any knowledge. 
They don't give us any funding to make changes, all they do is criticise... As if Venice needed Unesco to be a world heritage site! We need more action and fewer words.
- Massimo Cacciari, Venice's former mayor
  • On the other hand, the current Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro had said in 2019 that they will write to UNESCO urging the city to be added to the endangered list after a huge vessel crashed into a tourist boat on the canal that year. 
  • Bruganaro at the time felt that the Italian government wasn't doing enough. 
  • The Italian government has been taking some measures. It is enforcing a ban on large vessels in the San Marco Canal, though UNESCO feels there are other more polluting boats too. 
Photo: Representative
  • UNESCO also pointed out a problem with a large number of tourists visiting the city, leading to an expansion of urban projects that are damaging to the fragile and historical structures of Venice. 
  • UNESCO has also recommended that the high-rise buildings remain far away from the city centre as they have a "significant negative visual impact". 
Last updated: August 02, 2023 | 16:03
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