UNESCO recommends putting Venice on its heritage danger list
UNESCO is calling on the Italian government to “ensure the utmost dedication” to address “long-standing problems” in Venice, which has been grappling for years with too many tourists and the effects of climate change.
A gondola packed with tourists goes under the Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal in Venice. (Eloi_Omella/iStock Unreleased/Getty Images)
LONDON (CNN) — UNESCO has recommended that one of the most popular and fragile tourist destinations in Italy be added to its heritage danger list.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is calling on the Italian government to “ensure the utmost dedication” to address “long-standing problems” in Venice, which has been grappling for years with too many tourists and the effects of climate change.
Venice is one of 1,157 places currently designated a World Heritage Site, which have “outstanding universal value” because of their cultural or natural offerings.
The recommendation to put Venice on the World Heritage in Danger list was made by UNESCO and advisory body experts in its provisional agenda ahead of the 45th session of the agency’s World Heritage Committee, which is scheduled to be held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in September.
The draft resolution argues that there has not been a “significant level of progress in addressing the persistent and complex issues related in particular to mass tourism, development projects and climate change.”
The draft resolution stated that these issues are causing “deterioration and damage to building structures and urban areas, degrading the cultural and social identity of the property and threatening the integrity of its cultural, environmental and landscape attributes and values.”
Weather and tourism issues in Venice
Venice has been coping with a veritable seesaw of weather-related problems in recent years.
Back in February of this year, the city was in the grips of a drought so bad that it was impossible for gondolas, water taxis and ambulances to pass through some canals. In November 2019, flooding was so bad that historical treasures and buildings were endangered.
Overtourism in Venice has been an ongoing issue, and UNESCO noted some of the efforts in place to combat that, such as the ban on large ships from entering the San Marco Basin – Giudecca Canal. Still, the report said “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 OUV [outstanding universal value]” of Venice.
According to a report from CNN affiliate SkyTG24, the Municipality of Venice said it “will carefully read the proposed decision published today by the Center for Unesco’s World Heritage Committee and will exchange views with the government, which is the State Party with which UNESCO interacts.”
CNN reached out to Italian Culture Ministry, which said it had not released a statement on the UNESCO recommendation. CNN has also reached out to the Italian Tourism Ministry and the Municipality of Venice, but neither had responded by Monday evening.
CNN’s Forrest Brown contributed to this report.
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