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Unesco recommends adding Venice to list of world heritage sites in danger

A man walks in St. Mark’s Square after days of severe flooding in Venice

Unesco experts have recommended that Venice and its lagoon be added to its list of World Heritage in Danger as Italy is not doing enough to protect the city from the impact of climate change and mass tourism.

Unesco World Heritage Centre experts regularly review the state of the UN cultural agency’s 1,157 World Heritage sites, and at a meeting in Riyadh in September, a committee of 21 Unesco member states will review more than 200 sites and decide which to add to the danger list.

For nearly 10 of these sites, the experts recommend that member states put them on the danger list, among which already are the historic centre of Odessa, Ukraine, the town of Timbuktu in Mali, and several sites in Syria, Iraq and Libya.

Other sites recommended to be put on the danger list this year are the cities of Kyiv and Lviv in Ukraine.

“Resolution of long-standing but urgent issues is hindered by a lack of overall joint strategic vision for the long-term preservation of the property and low effectiveness of integrated coordinated management at all stakeholder levels,” Unesco said.

Unesco said corrective measures proposed by the Italian state are “currently insufficient and not detailed enough.” It added that Italy “has not been communicating in a sustained and substantive manner since its last Committee session in 2021, when Unesco had already threatened to blacklist Venice.

The agency said it hoped that “such inscription will result in greater dedication and mobilisation” of local and national stakeholders to address long-standing issues.

A spokesperson for the Venice municipality told Reuters the city “will carefully read the proposed decision published today by the Center for Unesco’s World Heritage Committee and will discuss it with the government”.

Venice, known for its canals and cultural sites, has been struggling with mass tourism for years. On a single day during the 2019 Carnival, some 193,000 people squeezed into the historic centre. Venice has been preparing to introduce a fee for day-trippers to control visitor numbers, but has been delayed by objections.

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