In November 2019, the Italian Authorities invited the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention for an Advisory Mission to provide strategic reflections, practical advice and external support for their efforts to find sustainable solutions to major ongoing developments that are likely to degrade the outstanding universal values, both cultural and natural, of Venice and its Lagoon – arguably one of the most iconic properties listed under the World Heritage Convention.
The joint Advisory Mission took place on 27-31 January 2020 (Ramsar Advisory Mission N°94). With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic shortly after the Mission, the ever increasing pressure by national and global tourism on the city and its Lagoon, including international cruises, came to an abrupt, albeit temporary standstill. However, ongoing sea-level rise, increased flood frequencies (worst flood event in November 2019 since 50 years), expanding lagoon erosion and pollution are phenomena that continue despite the pandemic. They are driven by climate change and increasing human pressures on the Lagoon ecosystem. The report is a timely reminder of the huge challenges facing the authorities of the historic city. A city that would not be attractive as it is without its Lagoon.
The Mission was a follow-up to a similar joint Mission in October 2015 (Ramsar Advisory Mission N°80). It analysed progress made in mitigating many threats and improving the management of the outstanding values for the long-term conservation of the cultural and natural heritage. It provides an outline how to build back better the management system for the Lagoon its iconic city and smaller settlements, for the Venetians, inhabitants and visitors.