© E. Kieckens
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The vaporettos, the famous waterbuses of Venice, still spew their diesel fumes across the Canale Grande. With the end of the corona crisis in sight, it is only a matter of time before overtourism takes hold again in one of the world’s most famous cities.

To put it bluntly, Venice is not at the forefront of ecological transition or the approach to sustainable development.

But that is supposed to all change starting this week. An acceleration project led by the Università Ca’Foscari – the University of Venice – is issuing a so-called ‘Call for action’ to companies, including start-ups, and institutions all over the world to come up with innovative proposals and ideas in areas ranging from marine life to clean energy. Participating companies (“solution providers”) are being promised that their brand awareness will be raised and their solutions will potentially be marketed.

Sustainable Development Goals

The project has been named VeneSIA, which stands for Venice Sustainability Innovation Accelerator. Partners include Boston Consulting Group and Italian energy companies Eni and Enel. The aim of Venisia is to pool all global efforts through five Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, after the English acronym). The United Nations set 17 universal goals in 2012 to address environmental, political and economic challenges.

Venice is suffering

VeniSIA’s mission is to accelerate corporate labs and start-ups committed to achieving the environmental SDGs and unlock their market potential by means of disruptive technology and strategy innovation. Venice ultimately has to become a fully sustainable city.

Venice is subject to flooding, among other things, even though the special Moses Dam was commissioned just last year. Tourism has taken over the city. In 2019, 11 million tourists stayed one or more nights in Venice. The number of day-trippers is overwhelming at about 25 million annually. At the same time, the population is declining every year. In 1951, the historic center counted 150,000 local residents; in 2020, only 53,000 people were living there.

Registration ends on July 31, 2021. Learn more at VeniSIA’s dedicated English-language site here

Also read about a private initiative that led to the first electric charging pole in the lagoon city.