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Solution-oriented Sea Level Rise Mitigation and Adaptation Policy Tool for the City of Venice.

The first of the four SAVEMEDCOASTS-2 meetings with local stakeholders was held in Venice (Italy) at Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti on October 26th, 2021. It was organized by the Environmental Services Unit of  Venice Municipality, which is a partner of the project. The workshop brought together key stakeholders from the public, private and non-for-profit sectors to discuss the issue of SLR, identify Venice’s main needs as well as solutions to mitigate and adapt to this problem. 

The project coordinator Marco Anzidei, scientist at Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, began by presenting for the first-time the expected flooding scenarios for the Venice lagoon for the year 2100 in the absence of artificial protective barriers like the MOSE system, that will be soon operational. Scenarios, computed by SAVEMEDCOASTS-2, depict what Venetians might face in less than 80 years from now. According to the worst climatic scenario, the mean sea level will rise up to 72+/-12 cm by2100.

“It must be noticed that in some coastal areas the effect of the sea level rise is exacerbated by land subsidence”, said Marco Anzidei. Subsidence is a natural phenomenon causing the land surface to slowly move downwards. However it is often amplified by human activities such as extraction of water or gas from the subsurface. In Venice a 1.5 mm/yr of land subsidence will add several cm to the mean sea level rise in the next 80 years.

Because the above processes are slow, they might drive a misperception of the consequences. Venetians are fully adapted to high tides that flood the city periodically, but they are not fully aware that sea level rise is constant and the inundation of the city could be a permanent condition in the next decades.

During the workshop, ISOTECH, an environmental research and consultancy based in Cyprus, as partner of the project, applied their DeCyDe-4-SLR method. This is a prized participatory decision support method that engages local key stakeholders in the development of site-specific and solution-oriented Sea Level Rise Mitigation and Adaptation Policy Tools. This is the last step of a stakeholder engagement process that included the recording of stakeholder perceptions through a  questionnaire and a series of interviewees to understand the main gaps, needs and opportunities with regards to Sea Level Rise. At the workshop in Venice, stakeholders participated in a collective intelligence exercise that allowed the exchange of views and opinions and facilitated the identification of effective and applicable mitigation and adaptation measures. 

The Venetian stakeholders identified and ranked 15 needs of Venice with regards to SLR. The top 3 needs of Venice were (1) more information, education and training, especially regarding what to do in case of emergencies; (2) the more flexible and optimised management of MOSE; and (3) the protection of vulnerable areas from natural and man-made threats. Stakeholders then proceeded to identify measures for addressing these needs. The implementation of training and drills at schools and for the general public on how to behave in case of emergencies such as extreme flooding events, were considered important as they could help minimise the associated risk and build better community response. Concurrently, stakeholders believed that the conservation and  reinforcement of natural protective barriers (e.g. sand dunes, saltmarshes, littorals) and the implementation of novel nature-based solutions could be very effective in providing a natural buffer to the effects of SLR. With regards to the MOSE, the Venetian stakeholders stated that it is important to clearly define the governance of MOSE, to improve procedures so they become more flexible, quick and effective, and to improve the communication among the interested parties.   

The detailed workshop outputs will be used to develop the Venice SLR Mitigation and Adaptation Policy Tool that will  be shared with key decision-makers.


We thank all the participating stakeholders for their very valuable contribution!


Photo credits: Marco Anzidei

Venice - the workshop with stakeholders