Cambridge University and CoRiLa, Venice, 2001-2004


Venice in Peril teamed up with Cambridge University Committee for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies and Churchill College, Cambridge, embarking on a three-year research project directed at the flooding and environmental problems of Venice and the Venice lagoon. Carried out in association with the Venice-based Consortium for the Management of the Research on the Venice Lagoon System (CORILA), this culminated in the three-day conference held in  at Churchill College, Cambridge, that was attended by over 130 scientists from around the world, to consider what is known today about the flooding of Venice, its possible prevention and any related ecological issues. An important aim of the meeting was to identify any major gaps or weaknesses in the research and procedures. All parties involved in the research, such as the Consorzio Venezia Nuova, the Centro Nazionale di Ricerca (CNR) and the University of Padua, sent high-level representatives, and scientists came also from England, St Petersburg, the Netherlands, the USA and Spain to compare their experiences in analogous situations. 


Funded with generous assistance from the Headley Trust, The Getty Foundation, Sir Mark and Lady Moody-Stuart and Mrs Marina Morrisson Atwater.
 
This research programme led to the following publications:

 
The Science of Saving Venice, Caroline Fletcher and Jane Da Mosto 2003
(Umberto Allemandi e C.,) 2003

 
What the scientists really think about Venice and its flooding problem

For the first time, a book for the layperson based on reliable science.
For over 10 years, there has been violent argument in Italy about how to protect Venice from flooding, which has dangerously delayed important decision-making. Much of this debate has been based on an inadequate understanding of the complex issues involved, because scientific information has been only partially available to the public, and little has been explained in terms that the layperson can understand. This easy-to-read book is the distillation of the current state of scientific knowledge about the nature and causes of the threat to Venice, and about proposed solutions. It is the fruit of a three-year research collaboration between Cambridge University and CORILA (Consortium for the Coordination of Research in to the Lagoon) instigated and financed by the Venice in Peril Fund. This culminated in last year’s conference, held at Churchill College, Cambridge, that was attended by over 130 scientists from around the world. It reveals that the great majority of scientists believe Venice must have some sort of mobile barrier to protect it from extreme flooding events, but it also makes clear how many other factors are threatening the lagoon, and why the ecologists are right to be seriously worried about its health now. It ends by describing how climate change will force difficult decisions to be taken in the course of this century if our great grand-children are to enjoy this most beautiful creation of man.
Copies were sent to every Italian member of Parliament and senator, relevant members of regional and city government, and the Italian press. English-language copies were sent to all members of the European Parliament with a registered interest in the environment, similar members of the British Parliament, and relevant international journalists.
 
Published with the assisstance of The Getty Foundation. 


The Science of Saving Venice will be updated and republished in 2012.

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Flooding and Environmental Challenges for Venice and its Lagoon: State of Knowledge edited by C.A. Fletcher and T. Spencer (Cambridge University Press,) 2005
 
This is the first comprehensive synthesis of knowledge on the Venetian environment since the UNESCO report of 1969. 
It brings together the great volume and diversity of recent interdisciplinary research on Venice and its lagoon presented at the Venice in Peril funded conference held in Cambridge. Every paper has been subject to peer-review, which is important in an area of science where so much is contested by politicians. The book shows that the environmental future for Venice is bleak, with continuing land subsidence, likely acceleration in the rate of sea level rise and possible changes in storminess. Surrounding the city is a lagoon ecosystem showing signs of severe environmental degradation. The lessons reported here are relevant not only to Venice but also to all who live and work under the threat of coastal flooding, including the inhabitants of other great cultural centres, such as London and St Petersburg.

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