In a bid to save its heritage, the Italian city of Venice has presented a plan to tackle the effects of climate change, calling for responsible tourism at this years C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen.
For years, Venice has been facing its toughest challenge ever: the risk of flooding due to rising sea levels, Efe news reported on Saturday.
However, authorities warn that mass tourism and its environmental impact have also become a challenge for the city, a cradle of history dating back more 1,500 years.
“Anyone has to visit Venice with respect. You have to go for a few days, to be impregnated with it. The ones who hurt it those who spend only one day,” Luigi Brugnaro, Venice’s Mayor told Efe in an interview.
The conservative politician took part in the C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen, where he unveiled his plan to protect the Italian city from the effects of global warming.
His medium and long-term roadmap includes policies affecting not only the huge cruise ships that enter Venice daily but also the 25 million people that visit the city every year.
“No one should have negative thoughts about tourists. They are curious people who want to see a place like Venice and it is fair that they can do it. We only have to establish simple rules,” Brugnaro said.
From January 2020, visitors who spend less than 24 hours in Venice will have to pay a tourist tax of 10 euros to offset cleaning and maintenance costs.
Brugnaro also plans to regulate tourist rentals through platforms such as Airbnb.
In Venice, door-to-door garbage collecting has increased recycling. However, many visitors were not aware of the existence of this service.
Venice and its lagoon were declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1987, but two years ago the UN organization warned the Italian city that it should take steps before 2021 to avoid being included in his “blacklist”.
The next meeting of the UN committee to monitor the progress will be held in China in 2020.
Venice goes on alert when a high tide reaches 80 cm. If sea-levels were to rise by 110 cm, more than 10 per cent of the pedestrian area of the historic centre would be flooded.
If the worst predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are fulfilled, according to which the sea level could rise 110 cm in 2100, the situation could become critical.
“It is not inevitable that it will end up being destroyed. Venice is much more alive than some say. It is a resilient city that adapts,” the Mayor told Efe news.
The city is “a symbol for the world, one of its greatest symbols. We must set aside our selfishness and interests. If Venice is saved, the world is saved”, he added. (IANS)