its surrounding lagoon, is unique. In this city on the water, where the idea of
terra firma is meaningless, a thousand years has seen the creation of an extraordinary
museum of architecture. But this cultural and natural heritage is very
seriously threatened. The image of a beautiful romantic city was shattered on 4 November 1966, when
torrential rain devastated the north of Italy and
flooded both Venice and Florence on a
scale never seen before. The damage was enormous. The cruel toll in human
lives, and the physical destruction, were compounded by damage to thousands of
works of art.
UNESCO's involvement with the City of Venice initiated this same day when the Italian Government
made an appeal for aid to the 14th Session of the UNESCO General Conference
which was being convened at the same time. The Conference responded immediately
by adopting a Resolution and on 2 December 1966, the Director General of UNESCO, Mr. R. Maheu, officially launched the
"International Campaign for Florence and Venice". Establishment of a Ministerial Committee for
the Study of Measures suitable for the defence and Safeguard of Venice better
known as the "Public Works Committee 1966", sessions in which, on
many an occasion, UNESCO participated.
On 15 March 1967, in a memorandum concerning Venice the Italian Government invited UNESCO to play an
active role in an international action. A few months later, in order to identify the needs of Venice for the purpose of
UNESCO's action and to attract the attention of public leaders and institutions
in various countries, the Italian Government and UNESCO organised jointly an
international Meeting for the Protection of the cultural property of Florence
and Venice. The conference expressed the hope to see UNESCO "continue to
disseminate information" and "intensify its efforts to solicit and
obtain contributions from governments and from public and private sources and
that the Government of Italy, in agreement with UNESCO, would set up in Venice an international technical advisory committee.
In the first 7 years of the Campaign for the
Safeguarding of Venice, UNESCO brought international public awareness to the
difficulties and problems the City of Venice was continually facing. The Campaign also elaborated
updated scientific and technical studies which lead to an exhaustive plan to
safeguard not only the historic centre of Venice, its monuments and its cultural heritage but also its
surrounding Lagoon. In 1973, the Private Committees for the Safeguarding of
Venice were established. Major contributions collected from these worldwide
private committees/organisations were (and still are today) channelled through
UNESCO to be used for the restoration and preservation of Venice and its Lagoon. The office of the Campaign was
originally located in Rome, but in accordance with Italian Government was
transferred to Venice in the Appartimenti Reali located Office for the
Safeguarding of Venice.
The generous movement is still going
strong, and 40 years later, there is unanimous agreement on the successful
results both of the technical achievements and of international cooperation.
But Venice still needs attentive care, and its
continued survival depends on our unflagging vigilance.
The International Safeguarding Campaign on the website
The UNESCO Venice Medal.
in Peril, the British Committee for the Preservation of Venice.
Niger 7 February 1972
Tunisia 7 February 1972
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