Letter delivered to Italian Prime Minister ahead of UN Climate Conference warns Venice is sinking faster than we think


As world leaders gather for the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow this weekend, a letter calling for a plan to protect Venice during the climate crisis was delivered to Italian Prime Minister Mario on Tuesday. Draghi. The appeal of the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti (ISVLA) was signed by the president emeritus of the institute, Gherardo Ortalli; its current president, Andrea Rinaldo; and her compatriot Anna Somers Cocks, former president of the Venice in Peril Fund. Following the worsening of projections released in July by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the letter calls for an action plan to save the vulnerable UNESCO World Heritage site.

“Serious humanitarian and ecological disasters are already being caused by climate change and these will worsen exponentially if global warming is not controlled,” the letter said. “By comparison, the likely demise of Venice, along with other sites whose beauty and history we take for granted, may seem like an elite affair. ISVLA believes however that it is not one or the other, lives are, of course, paramount, but beauty, history and culture are also indispensable and, as far as the possible, should be saved.

The letter claims that, contrary to popular assumptions, structures in Venice are more likely to collapse into the sea before the city is submerged, and calls for water defenses to replace the current sea barrier, which was meant to be temporary. He then called for the formation of an organization to tackle the problems facing Venice and come up with a comprehensive plan.

The letter sparked discussions on prioritization and implementation. The NGO We Are Here Venice (WAHV) believes that the signatories were right to write the letter, but also sees this moment as an opportunity to make Venice carbon neutral, as an example for the rest of the world. Jane da Mosto, executive director of WAHV, believes that with measures such as the introduction of hybrid water buses, for example, a big impact could be achieved for a relatively small investment.

“Venice should be used to represent the model of resilience and sustainability, as the world faces the climate crisis and must find ways to save humanity, Venice could be a perfect laboratory to implement new solutions to urban challenges, ”da Mosto told Artnet News. “I think they call it the oldest city of the future.”

Indeed, Venice has become the home of many organizations at the forefront of research and reflection on the climate crisis. The contemporary art association TBA21 Academy opened Ocean Space in the city in 2019 to host its exhibitions. Speaking about the decision to set up their base of operations there, TBA21 Academy director Markus Reymann told Artnet News: “There is no better way to intervene for a cause that requires attention. collaboration and global solutions only through a space that brings together the international community. “

Reymann believes the ancient city is uniquely positioned to be a leader in the push for change, thanks to its geography and specific circumstances, including swarms of tourists and cruise ships. “Historically, Venice has been a place of experimentation”, he added, “and of exchanges and could therefore be both encouraged and supported to assume the responsibility of becoming a daring and radically imaginative laboratory of possible paths , bringing together many disciplines linked together by culture.

Artists from around the world have also lent their voices to call for more urgent action on the climate crisis; for COP26, they include installations by artist Mary Ellen Carroll and designer Steuart Padwick across Glasgow and a three-day online event hosted by indigenous artist group Living Nature.

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