Venice avoids UNESCO ‘endangered’ designation after cruise ship ban – ARTnews.com
After banning large cruise ships from crossing its lagoon, Venice has avoided being designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site “in danger”. UNESCO made the announcement Thursday, a week after the Italian cabinet declared the city’s waterways a national monument. The landmark decision was aimed at saving the besieged ecosystem from damage caused by ships, which had started returning to Venice after a break made necessary by the pandemic.
The World Heritage Committee, the governing body of heritage sites, has given the Italian government until next December to further detail its efforts to preserve Venice’s ecosystem and heritage. Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said in a statement that “the attention paid to Venice must remain high” and underlined the need for the city to find a “path of sustainable development”.
Environmentalists have campaigned for a decade to ban oversized tourist vessels from the lagoon, citing the large waves caused by the ships. These waves destabilize the underwater ecosystem and could damage the already fragile foundations of the city. In recent weeks, protesters have staged protests, displaying flags that read “No big boats”.
In 2019, UNESCO warned the Italian city of problems with cruise ships crossing the Venetian Lagoon. These cruise ships, which brought millions of people to Venice each year before the pandemic, will now be banned from entering the Saint Mark’s Basin, the Saint Mark’s Canal and the Giudecca Canal from the 1st. August.
Non-government watch groups say the ban does not solve the many problems the city faces, such as over-tourism and natural resource management. The groups also claim that the temporary decision to dock cruise ships in the industrial port of Marghera still puts the lagoon at risk.
“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.