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International Conference Sustainability of local commons with a global value: the case of Venice and its lagoon

Venice, Island of San Giorgio Maggiore

Fifty years after the 1966 Venice flood, the Fondazione Cini is holding an international conference on the city’s future

Devoted to the theme of “Sustainability of local commons with a global value: Venice and its lagoon”, the conference will  bring together international experts from various disciplines

On 4 and 5 November 2016, exactly 50 years since the flood of 1966 that so dramatically highlighted to the whole world Venice’s vulnerability, the Fondazione Giorgio Cini is staging an international conference on the future of the lagoon city and the sustainable management of its heritage. Entitled Sustainability of local commons with a global value: Venice and its lagoon, the conference (in English) will be held attended by a group of international experts on themes related to governance.

Venice and its lagoon are an emblematic case of local commons but with a special feature: both have been attributed a global value, making them a universal good, that is, a rich historical legacy to be shared by everyone and a heritage of humanity. The thinking underlying Sustainability of local commons with a global value: Venice and its lagoon has been inspired by the definition of local commons provided by Nobel prize-winner Elinor Ostrom: i.e. goods that are not the exclusive prerogative of some to the detriment of others. Such goods, however, are not free and unlimited, because use by one person inevitably reduces their availability for use by somebody else.

Their dynamics are thus paradoxical because they entail contrasting but equally legitimate rights.  In this case it is indispensable to adopt what Ostrom describes as a “polycentric approach” involving not only the action of local institutions but also of national government and the wider international community. In this kind of approach, the issue of governance becomes a priority.

The conference Sustainability of local commons with a global value: Venice and its lagoon will take the form of an extended round table in the Longhena Library on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore. The above themes will be addressed by international experts from various disciplines: economics, ecology, politology, sociology, tourism, urban planning, jurisprudence and the cultural heritage. Over the two days of the conference the experts will illustrate their ideas and propose solutions, by taking as an example the situation of Venice and its lagoon –  an emblematic case of local commons with a global value.


The invited speakers are:

Irina Bokova, Director-General, UNESCO
Francesco Bandarin, Assistant Director-General for Culture, UNESCO
Bonnie Burnham, President Emerita, World Monuments Fund
Joan Busquets, Urban Planner, Harvard University
Richard Sennet, Sociologist, London School of Economics
Ignazio Musu, Emeritus Professor of Economics, Università Ca’ Foscari, Venice
Simon Levin, Ecologist, Princeton University
Yves Mény, President, Scuola Universitaria Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa
Charles Perrings, Environmental Economist, Arizona State University
Michela Fontana, Writer
Pier Vellinga, Climatologist, Wagenigen University
G.W. Richards, Professor of Leisure Studies, Tilburg University
Charles Landry, Urbanologist and Writer.

The conference language is English and simultaneous translation will be available.


Download the program

Position paper

Giovanni Bazoli’s talk 

Irina Bokova’s talk