UNESCO joins Venice in its remembrance of the great flood of 1966, the Aqua Granda
UNESCO, through its Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, based in Venice, is participating with the Italian authorities, the Municipality of Venice and a wide range of institutions and stakeholders in the commemoration of the great flood, “Aqua Granda 1966-2016”.
On 4 November 1966, the exceptional rise of the water caused severe damage to the cities of Venice and Florence, their inhabitants and their cultural heritage. UNESCO’s involvement for Venice started with the appeal launched by its then Director-General, René Maheu, on 2 December 1966, which led to the International Safeguarding Campaign for the Safeguarding of Venice. Funding and assistance came from all over the globe.
The campaign, which ended in 1991, resulted in an outstanding cooperation experience that allowed the restauration of major monuments within the city, in close collaboration with the Superintendencies (Ministry of Cultural Heritage) and some 50 private committees established throughout the world, demonstrating international solidarity, both public and private. The spirit of the Campaign is still alive today in the joint UNESCO-International Private Committees for the Safeguarding of Venice, which allowed some 700 restauration and conservation projects, as well as research and capacity-building activities.
The “Venice Report” published by UNESCO in 1969 called the attention of the international community to the need to extend the safeguarding efforts to the entire ecosystem of the Lagoon of Venice. The report also led to the adoption in 1973 of the Italian “Special Law for Venice” recognizing the safeguarding of the site as a national priority. That same year, UNESCO opened an office in Venice to coordinate the Campaign, which expanded further until becoming, with the support of the Italian Government, the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe.
The international conference promoted by UNESCO in 1981 set the basis for the launching of the “Venice Lagoon System” project, a vast international research effort funded by the Italian authorities over an entire decade (1990-2000), providing a considerable knowledge for the management of Venice and its lagoon. As one of the entities in charge of its implementation, UNESCO developed two projects, first the “Venice Lagoon Ecosystem” (1990-1994), followed by the “Venice Inner Canals” (1995-1999). This last project led to the development of a Sediment Transport Model of the inner canals of Venice as well as to the development of a web-based GIS application as a Decisional Support System for the urban planning and management of the City of Venice, successively transferred to the entity responsible for the integrated restauration project of the Venice inner canals.
In 1987, Venice and its lagoon were recognized as an inseparable whole of which the city is the pulsating historic heart and a unique artistic achievement. The site was inscribed on the World Heritage List, due to its uniqueness and outstanding universal value. Between 2009 and 2012, UNESCO sustained the Municipality of Venice in coordinating a large consultation process which led to the Management Plan for the World Heritage property of “Venice and its Lagoon”.
Today, after 50 years, UNESCO and its Member States remain committed to the challenges of safeguarding Venice, standing beside the responsible Italian authorities, favouring an approach of support to all the institutions responsible for protecting “Venice and its Lagoon” World Heritage site.
Among the numerous events organised as part of “Aqua Granda 1966-2016”, UNESCO is directly involved in the exhibition “Venezia 1966-2016. Dall’ emergenza al recupero del patrimonio culturale. Storie e immagini dagli archivi della città” (From the emergency to the restoration of cultural heritage. Stories and images from the archives of the city) which shall be inaugurated tomorrow at the Marciana National Library. The exhibition will run until 27 November 2016.
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