State of conservation of Venice and its lagoon (Italy)
The UNESCO World Heritage Centre is receiving messages expressing concern about the state of conservation of the World Heritage property "Venice and its lagoon” (Italy), inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1987.
The UNESCO World Heritage Centre closely follows the state of conservation of the property with the Italian authorities.
The World Heritage Committee, at its 38th session in 2014, reviewed the state of conservation of the site. The Committee’s Decision 38COM 7B.27 regarding “Venice and its lagoon” is available on the UNESCO website at the following link: whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6014.
A joint UNESCO/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission as requested by the Committee will take place by the end of 2015 to assess current conditions at the property, including the evaluation of potential impacts from development proposals in accordance to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, as well as to review if the property is faced with threats which could have deleterious effects on its inherent characteristics and meets the criteria for its inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The state of conservation of this property will again be reviewed by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016.
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7B.Add,
- Recalling Decision 13 COM IX.22, adopted at its 13th session (UNESCO, 1989),
- Takes note of the State Party’s efforts to develop a range of mechanisms to safeguard Venice and its lagoon landscape and of the approved Management Plan resulting from extensive consultations among all stakholders, and encourages the State Party to undertake its revision based on the results from the technical evaluation by ICOMOS;
- Expresses its concern about the extent and scale of proposals for large infrastructure, navigation and construction projects in the Lagoon that can potentially jeopardize the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property by generating irreversible transformations on the landscape and seascape of the property;
- Requests the State Party to undertake Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) for these projects to assess both individual and overall cumulative impacts of the potential modifications of the Lagoon and its immediate land and seascape, in order to prevent any irreversible transformations and potential threat to the property’s OUV and to enhance the protection of the property in relation to sustaining its OUV;
- Also expresses its concern about the negative environmental impacts triggered by medium motor boats to high tonnage ships that have progressively caused erosion of the lagoon beds, mud banks and salt marshes, and which could represent potential threat to the property’s OUV and also requests the State Party to enforce speed limits and regulate the number and type of boats;
- Urges the State Party to prohibit the largest ships and tankers to enter the Lagoon and further requests the State Party to adopt, as a matter of urgency, a legal document introducing such a process;
- Recognises the exceptionally high tourism pressure on the city of Venice, and the extensive tourism related activities, urges the State Party to prioritise the development of a sustainable tourism strategy, and also encourages the State Party to develop jointly with the major tourism and cruise companies alternative solutions to allow cruise tourists to enjoy and understand the value of Venice and also its fragility;
- Further encourages financial institutions and agencies to ensure that Heritage and/or Environmental Impact Assessments are carried out to determine that there are no negative impacts on the OUV, before planning investment in large-scale developments within the property and its setting;
- Encourages furthermore the State Party to continue with the assessment of the hydrology and geo-mechanics functioning of the Venice Lagoon and its whole drainage basin; and invites the State Party to establish a strong coordination among all stakeholders concerned to ensure the hydro-geological balances of the Venice Lagoon and the whole drainage basin, as well as the protection of all attributes that convey the OUV of the property;
- Also takes note of the proposal for the establishment of the buffer zone and also invites the State Party to undertake its revision in line with the ICOMOS technical review and submit to the World Heritage Centre the minor boundary modification by 1 February 2015;
- Requests furthermore the State Party to invite a joint UNESCO/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to the property in 2015 to assess current conditions at the property, including the evaluation of potential impacts derived from development proposals and identify options for development proposals in accordance to the OUV of the property, as well as to review if the property is faced with threats which could have deleterious effects on its inherent characteristics and meets the criteria for its inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger in line with Paragraph 179 of the Operational Guidelines , and recommends to the State Party to also invite a representative of the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention to take part in this reactive monitoring mission;
- Requests moreover the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, a progress report on the state of conservation of the property, and by 1 December 2015 a state of conservation report on the implementation of the above, both reports including a 1-page executive summary, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016.