Fuzhou (dpa) – Venice and Budapest narrowly escaped the classification of endangered world heritage.
Despite concerns about both cultural and natural sites, the responsible committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural and Communication Organization (Unesco) at its 44th meeting in the Chinese city of Fuzhou s’ refrained from putting the two main European tourist attractions on the red List the endangered sites.
Venice was able to avoid the classification by banning the passage of large cruise ships in certain parts of the lagoon, announced a little over a week ago. The committee justified its decision with the ban, which will come into effect on August 1, and the measures planned for long-term solutions for maritime transport, where options outside the lagoon take priority and where other ports of the region should be called.
Unesco had previously expressed concern about the effects of tourism and the cruise industry and possible damage to buildings as well as planned infrastructure and construction projects in Venice. Reference was also made to the effects of climate change and extreme weather events on the lagoon and the building structure.
The Italian government had announced the ban of the Canale della Giudecca, the Bacino di San Marco (Saint Mark’s basin) and the Canale di San Marco in the historic center just before the start of the UNESCO consultations. It also applies to ships that exceed certain emission standards. Others are allowed to continue passing.
Italian Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini welcomed UNESCO’s decision. “Global attention for Venice must remain high,” said Franceschini. It is everyone’s duty to work for the protection of the lagoon and to find a way of sustainable development.
For years activists, locals and the tourism industry have fought for cruise ships in the lagoon. It has several small strips of land and islands and is largely separated from the open sea. There is also the historic old town of Venice with its tourist attractions. Venice and the lagoon have enjoyed coveted World Heritage status since 1987.
Critics complained that the giant ships destroyed the lagoon, damaged the city’s foundations and polluted the air. Cruise tourism brings little economic benefit as passengers do not sleep in hotels and often spend little money.
Budapest – There will be a new consultation in a year
The Hungarian capital Budapest with its banks of the Danube, the castle district and Andrássy Allee has also escaped Red List inscription, at least for the time being. The World Heritage Committee wants to talk about it again in a year. The main reason given was that a management plan for the World Heritage site could not be completed as planned due to the pandemic. Hungary therefore had more time.
Unesco is concerned about large construction projects, high-rise buildings, demolition works, inappropriate development in the Jewish Quarter, inappropriate use of public facilities, lack of conservation efforts and increasing traffic. One document spoke of “imminent threats” to a unique universal value. Differences of opinion with the Hungarian side on Unesco’s concerns were also mentioned.
The World Heritage Committee will meet online and on site until July 31. It is made up of 21 States elected Parties to the World Heritage Convention. As a general rule, it decides each year on the inscription of new cultural and natural sites on the World Heritage List and takes care of the state of the inscribed sites. Due to the pandemic, the conference was postponed last year. The World Heritage List currently includes 1,120 cultural and natural sites in 167 countries. 51 of them are considered threatened. Germany has 46 World Heritage sites.
Among the 40 or so nominations of new World Heritage sites to the conference, there are also five nominations with German participation: the artist colony Mathildenhöhe in Darmstadt, the Jewish cultural heritage in Mainz, Speyer and Worms, the thermal spas of Baden-Baden, Bad Ems and Bad Kissingen are among the important historical baths in Europe as well as the Roman border walls of the Danube Limes and Lower German Limes. These applications are to be discussed next weekend.