Interview with Jane Da Mosto from "We are here Venice"

The Press Office of the Global Campus of Human Rights had the opportunity to ask Jane Da Mosto, from the non-profit organisation “We are here Venice”, about her views on possible sustainable futures for Venice and the Veneto Region.

Could you tell us more about We are here Venice?

We are here Venice is an NGO that exists to address the fundamental challenge facing Venice: to remain a living city. Our mission is based on acknowledging that the city and the lagoon are inseparable elements of a single system, and our work highlights the interplay between the natural environment and human activities. WahV advocates evidence-based approaches to policy making, operating both as a think tank and as an activist platform, strengthening connections between stakeholders and the best available information.

    Our work is organised across three action areas:
  • Venice and the lagoon, which concerns biodiversity protection, environmental restoration, and resisting overtourism and large cruise ships with alternative propositions linked to Venice’s natural capital and associated economic opportunities
  • Language of value, focused on finding better ways to understand trends and changes in Venice and collecting information and data from various sources
  • Exchange of knowledge, seeking to establish international networks of best practice, skills and deepening our understanding of issues via fresh insights from engaging with others
  • We believe that Venice’s unique circumstances offer huge potential as a laboratory for exploring innovative approaches to community resilience.

How could Venice become more efficient, attractive and prepared to host students, professors, experts, and authorities from all over the world?

Firstly, let’s remember that Venice is already very attractive to students, professors, and indeed everyone “from all over the world.” More could and should be done to highlight this and connect all these types of people more intimately to the everyday life of the city.
Housing, we all know, is a problem. Much of the residential fabric of the city has been allocated to the tourist market, thus rental prices are beyond the reach of many academics and students, as well as people who would like to settle in Venice forever. This issue also impacts upon visiting academics and students.
Overtourism has been making Venice an increasingly difficult place to live for longer term residents. We would love to see more investment in a sustainable future for the city that is not entirely economically reliant on tourism. Measures are needed to promote the diversification of productive activities, as well as good jobs and better housing so that more students who study here might stay on to build a life. This formula has worked in the revitalization of other towns and cities elsewhere in the world.

With its 1600-year anniversary coming up, how do you view relations with the academic network in Venice, the Veneto Region, the EU and the world, and could they be strengthened with new ideas and contributions regarding possible future scenarios for the city? Do you have any specific ideas?

It is very important to connect and consolidate the relationship between our institutions, especially during this difficult time, which is potentially an opportunity for positive change for all. We are trying to radically change perceptions of Venice and its potential to be a city of the future rather than a showcase for global problems like rising sea levels and suffocation due to the harmful consequences of unmanaged mass tourism. It was very gratifying for us to be invited via contacts at Ca’ Foscari to participate in a couple of exciting proposals for the latest round of Horizon 2020 under the umbrella of the European New Green Deal.
Meanwhile, in a limited context, WahV is planning, in collaboration with GCHR, a series of inspirational talks associated with “orientation exercises” around the city that participants are encouraged to do independently. The intention is to encourage positive thinking and offer young people (university as well as high school students, who have been among the worst affected by the limitations imposed by measures to limit the spread of Covid-19) the stimulus to observe Venice closely and from new perspectives, in its various dimensions as a living city, focusing on a specific theme with each talk or action. The inspirational talks will cover the following macro-themes applied to the city: nature and the environment, culture and productive activities.

How is human rights education relevant to the achievement of the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)and the creation of what we call a “Veneto Sostenibile”?

Human rights are integral to wellbeing, as are the UN’s SDGs. Social, economic and environmental states cannot be disentangled, as we all are experiencing directly during the Covid-19 pandemic, throughout the world.
The ambition to build a sustainable society together (from the micro to the macro scale), as described by both the UN and the Veneto Region, depends on everyone making binding commitments and ensuring that no one is left behind due to the lack of civil awareness where they live.

Could you share a message with the Global Campus of Human Rights community?

We are delighted to be associated with the Global Campus and look forward to getting to know you better and exploring some of the specific issues that WahV is engaging with. Together, we would like to extend the human rights perspective to non-human life within the context of the existential symbiosis on which the continued existence of Venice and the lagoon system depends.

For more information contact our Press Office

Elisa Aquino – Alice D’Este – Giulia Ballarin

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