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Press Coverage

Press Coverage

Press Release (September 2003)

This month, at Cambridge University, the first up-to -date synthesis since 1969 of existing research on the flooding of Venice and its lagoon.

Around 100 international scientists are gathering for this key interdisciplinary event.

Everybody knows that Venice gets flooded. Not everyone knows that this is a drastically deteriorating situation: around 1900, St Mark's Square was flooded about 10 times a year; now it is about100 times. Furthermore, the implications of climate change are only just beginning to be understood.

From 14 to 17 September 2003, over a hundred scientists are meeting in England at the University of Cambridge to provide the first up-to-date international synthesis since the UNESCO Reports of 1969 on the extant interdisciplinary research into the problems of Venice and Venice Lagoon.

The "Flooding and Environmental Challenges for Venice and its Lagoon: State of Knowledge 2003" meeting at Churchill College, Cambridge, is the fruit of a three-year project suggested by, and financed, by Venice in Peril, the British charitable fund for the safeguarding of Venice.

The meeting is cross-disciplinary and international. It involves key scientists from Venice and elsewhere in Italy, from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Russia, the United States and Germany, all with directly relevant experience in their individual fields of research or practice.

The meeting is aimed at facilitating an informed debate between experts, researchers, practitioners and decision-makers in the context of the continued efforts to safeguard Venice. Furthermore, it is hoped that the collective experience and expertise emerging from the meeting will be of real use for other coastal locations in the world that may face similar problems (e.g. the Thames, England; St Petersburg, Russia; Chesapeake Bay, USA, Rotterdam and the Eastern Scheldt, Holland).

Range of the meeting

Alongside the flooding problem, there are other environmental issues facing Venice. The closed lagoon and the architectural and physical infrastructure of Venice mean that water quality and ecological issues have to be confronted. Loss of natural sediment supply. Wetland loss and degradation and, movement and storage of pollutants within the industrialised lagoon are just some of the factors that interact with each other in a relatively small area.

If Venice is to continue to survive, solutions are required, fast.

The issues facing Venice have been, and continue to attract much scientific attention. A great deal of important research work has already been undertaken, in Italy and around the World.

Some action to protect Venice from flooding is already underway. Importantly, more substantial interventions in the form of mobile barriers to close the lagoon against exceptionally high tides has now been adopted by the Italian Government.

The barriers present unprecedented engineering challenges. In addition, the plan to build the barriers has stimulated enormous interest within the scientific and engineering community because of the interaction between the barrier works and other flooding safeguarding action, as well as ongoing programmes for habitat restoration, pollution and water quality control and other infrastructure works.

For more details, go to, or contact Anna Somers Cocks, Chairman of Venice in Peril, on +44 (0)771 326 4042, or Nicky Baly at Venice in Peril (; tel: +44 (0)207 957 8270.