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Venice swerves UNESCO endangered status days after banning cruise ships from entering

Venice swerves UNESCO endangered status days after banning cruise ships from entering
The lagoon city has avoided being placed on the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) list of endangered sites, after the Italian government banned the docking of cruise ships in its waters.

Following a debate on the issue at a World Heritage Committee meeting, Venice will not now be named a UNESCO endangered heritage site, with Italy’s culture minister praising the government’s last-minute efforts to avert the ‘danger list’ status.

“Thanks to the government’s decision to stop big ships passing in front of St. Mark’s and down the Giudecca Canal, we have achieved a first, important result,” Dario Franceschini said, following the committee’s decision.

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Italy gave Venice’s waterways ‘national monument’ status and banned cruise liners from sailing into the city on July 13, with the law set to come into effect from August 1.

Franceschini insisted that UNESCO’s decision did not necessarily mean Venice was now in the clear, however, warning: “Now, global attention on Venice must remain high, and it is the duty of everyone to work for the protection of the lagoon and find a path of sustainable development for this unique reality.”

Venice has long been plagued by environmental issues, with water levels rising higher each year, placing the iconic lagoon city at risk. A climate change study conducted by the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy, and Sustainable Economic Development in 2018 projected that Venice, as well as other cities on Italy’s northern Adriatic coast, could be underwater by 2100.

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This year’s UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting, held in Fuzhou, China, had listed six other locations as potential candidates for endangered status, including Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley, central Budapest and the banks of the Danube, the UK’s Stonehenge, and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

To make the UNESCO ‘danger list’, a heritage site must be at risk of losing its status as a heritage site due either to man-made issues, such as war or over-development, or because of environmental causes, such as natural disasters. At present, 53 sites are on the endangered list, with only four of those located in the West.

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