The truth that Venice in Peril would like everyone to understand is that Venice is so ecologically fragile that it will survive only as long as people want it to survive and are prepared to spend a great deal of money and political energy on looking after it.
We finance restoration and research into the underlying problems of Venice, such as flooding and tourism. We lobby for the longterm defence of the city, both as a monument and a living community.
The Venice in Peril Fund, the British Committee for the Preservation of Venice, was created after the great flood of 1966, when the waters rose to nearly two meters above mean water-level. Since then it has disbursed millions of pounds for the restoration of Venetian monuments, buildings and works of art. We are also the only one of the Private Committees for the safeguarding of Venice that addresses its underlying problems.
The Fund is committed to ensuring the sustainability of Venice, acting as a lobby group, informing the international media and working with outside bodies such as Cambridge University to broker agreement on how to deal with some of the critical ecological, demographic and socio-economic issues facing the city.
Its most recent publication is "The Venice Report" (2009), which investigates how many tourists can fit into Venice without overcrowding, how many people really live in Venice (it is not nearly as moribond as it suits some interested parties to say); how much public money is made available by Italy for the city and on what basis, and how the use of buildings is changing in the city.
The issue of greatest concern to us, though, is that there is no longterm plan on the part of the authorities for the protection of Venice from the waters, and as Dr Tom Spencer, head of the Coastal Research Unit of Cambridge University and an expert on the threat to Venice, has written to us, "I suspect a reactive model for Venice quickly leads to no Venice as we know it."
We want to Venice to be a sound and living city 200 years from now, so we put the experts together, we get the science peer-reviewed so that is it known to be reliable, and then we pass it on in comprehensible way to the media and politicians internationally to help them (and pressure them) into taking the right decisions.
Anna Somers Cocks
Chairman - The Venice in Peril Fund