The United Nations’ cultural protection agency, UNESCO, plans to recommend adding Venice to its list of World Heritage sites in danger, as the iconic island city faces simultaneous threats from climate change, mass tourism and rapid urban development. From a report: The designation, meant to encourage remedial actions and marshal international support for World Heritage sites, is recommended in a UNESCO report published Monday ahead of its World Heritage Committee meeting in September. The List of World Heritage in Danger identifies dozens of sites that are “threatened by serious and specific dangers,” such as armed conflict or natural disasters. It includes Odessa in Ukraine, which was added in January because of war-related threats, and the Everglades in Florida, which faces environmental degradation.
The proposal by UNESCO is the latest alarm bell over the future of Venice — one of the world’s most fragile and popular cities — as well as the Italian government’s efforts to protect it. Built across 118 small islands, the city was first designated as a World Heritage site in 1987 for its architectural splendor and work of master artists including Giorgione and Titian, among others. “It is tragic that the state of conservation of one of the most treasured cultural sites in the world is of such concern” that experts are considering Venice for the “in danger” list, Helene Marsh, a professor of environmental science at Australia’s James Cook University who has researched climate change and World Heritage sites, said in an email. A warming world poses an “existential threat” to preservation and conservation, Marsh said.