At a conference organised by the new Venice Sustainability Foundation in June, major public figures agreed for the first time that sea-level rise is the main problem facing the city now.
Maybe there is hope after all that Venice will survive into the next century. On 1 June, for the first time ever, at a conference organised by the new Fondazione Venezia Capitale Mondiale della Sostenibilità/ Venice Sustainability Foundation (VSF), politicians (well, ex-politicians, but major public figures nonetheless) admitted that sea-level rise is the main problem facing the city now.
Hitherto, the dozens of conferences held in Venice since 2000 have tended to be of two sorts: scientists speaking to other scientists, often about the coming disaster, but totally ignored by the authorities; and symposia on the social, economic and cultural aspects of the city, now and tomorrow, totally ignoring the fact that Venice will have no tomorrow unless steps are taken to prevent its inescapable attrition by the rising water level.
This conference, entitled “Mose and the others: international defences against flooding” and orchestrated by Pierpaolo Campostrini, the director general of Corila, the scientific body co-ordinating research into the Venice lagoon, was opened by Renato Brunetta, the minister of public administration in the governments of both Silvio Berlusconi and Mario Draghi, and chairman of VSF.
He celebrated the successful completion of the mobile barriers known as Mose, which have already been closed 50 times against flooding since 2020. This vast project, bitterly opposed in the 1990s by the Left and Green parties and highly politicised, has taken 17 years to become operational and cost €6.5bn, of which possibly as much as half a billion euros was due to corruption that poisoned relations with central government and the Venetians.
Most dangerously, it led to the suppression of the truth that Mose is the means of protecting the city against temporary flooding events but not the chronically rising sea level. This goes some way towards explaining why it is not on the to-do list of any Italian politicians, national or local…
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From the impact of the global sea level rise to Unesco’s abandonment of the city, the situation is looking bleak. Has anything changed for the better in the past seven years?