The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Ashley Siefert Nunes

Governments Ignore UNESCO Recommendation, Fail to Add Venice to List of Endangered World Heritage Sites

Statement by Adam Markham, Union of Concerned Scientists

At the World Heritage Committee meeting, member nations today ignored UNESCO’s recommendation by deciding against adding Venice—a city increasingly vulnerable to severe flooding and water damage—to the list of World Heritage sites that are “in danger.” Instead, Italy will have until December of next year to produce a detailed conservation plan for the site, which will then be taken up at the 2025 World Heritage Committee meeting. Its addition would have marked the first time a site had been placed on the endangered list due to climate change.

Below is a statement Adam Markham, the deputy director of the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

“As occurred with Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in recent years, member nations of the World Heritage Committee punted on adding Venice to UNESCO’s list of endangered sites. Today’s decision by the World Heritage Committee signals an alarming trend of nations not being held accountable for protecting some of the most iconic and irreplaceable natural and historic sites around the globe. Venice is a city in crisis facing rising sea levels and flooding that threaten the structural integrity of homes, businesses, critical infrastructure, and world-renowned historical sites. Uncontrolled mass tourism has also made affordable housing scarce for locals as demand for vacation rentals increases and the growth of cruise ship traffic has caused significant damage to the Venice lagoon. If nations continue to ignore the existential threat climate change poses to places like Venice, they could be irrevocably damaged or lost forever. Sadly, climate change and tourism are killing Venice.”

If you have questions or would like to interview Markham, please contact UCS Climate and Energy Media Manager Ashley Siefert Nunes.

Additional Resources:

  • A recent blogpost by Markham detailing some of the key issues being discussed at this year’s World Heritage Committee meeting.
  • A joint report by UCS, UNESCO and U.N. Environment Program titled “World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate,” which identifies the World Heritage sites most at risk from climate change.
  • A case study on the threat climate change poses to the Great Barrier Reef, which was originally in the aforementioned report but ultimately removed at the request of the Australian government, as well as a statement by Markham about this government interference.
  • A UCS report titled “National Landmarks at Risk: How Rising Seas, Floods, and Wildfires are Threatening the United States’ Most Cherished Historic Sites.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world. UCS combines independent scientific research and citizen action to develop innovative, practical solutions and to secure responsible changes in government policy, corporate practices, and consumer choices.