UNESCO’s ultimatum to Italy: Venice could be “blacklisted”

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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said the city could be “blacklisted” next month if large ships are not urgently and completely prevented from entering. the lagoon of Venice. The organization stressed that the absence of a permanent ban on ships puts Venice in danger.

Venice and its lagoon are still on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Declaring Venice “in danger” will be discussed at the meeting of the World Heritage Committee from July 16 to 31.

On this UN warning, the Italian Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini declared: “The risk of Venice entering the List of Heritage in Danger after this UNESCO decision obliges us to take a new step and immediately ban the passage of the great Canal de la Giudecca. “

On the other hand, the administrators of the city of Venice accuse the central government of not taking measures that will bring results quickly and of making statements that are only ostentatious.

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“This is one of the many alarms given to the government,” said Simone Venturini, head of the tourism department of the municipality of Venice, on warning from UNESCO.

The government approved a bill on the problem of large ships last March, but the move has drawn criticism for failing to provide a quick and permanent solution to the problem.

Due to the lack of an alternative route, especially for large cruise ships, these ships still continue to enter the Venetian Lagoon, approach the mouth of the Grand Canal and cross the Giudecca Canal.

Large ships passing through St. Mark’s Square and the Giudecca Canal in the Venetian Lagoon have been criticized for being harmful to the city’s infrastructure and the lagoon ecosystem. On the other hand, if there are those who oppose cruise tourism, there are also those who support it on the grounds that it contributes to the city economically.

Giant cruise ship traffic, which had stopped during the pandemic period, resumed earlier this month. The cruise ship, which entered the Venetian lagoon on June 5, was the subject of protests by activists aboard small boats.

Besides UNESCO, groups such as the Venetian “No Grand Ships Committee” (No Grandi Navi) have been calling for a solution to this problem for years.

Controversy escalated after the giant cruise ship MSC Opera, which entered the Giudecca Canal in 2019, crashed into a jetty, injuring 5 people.

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After this accident, the mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, also criticized the central government for not finding a solution and called on UNESCO to be blacklisted.

Venice and its lagoon have been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1987. Of the more than 1,100 sites included in the list, 53 are still identified as “endangered”.

Italian Minister of Culture Franceschini, regarding the possibility of Venice being included in the heritage in danger, said: “It will be serious for our country, we have no time to waste with hesitation.”

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