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OECD Territorial Reviews: Venice, Italy 2010

image of OECD Territorial Reviews: Venice, Italy 2010

This Review of Venice, Italy, offers a comprehensive assessment of the city-region’s economy and the extent to which its land use, labour market and environmental policies embrace a metropolitan vision. A new understanding of the provinces of Padua, Treviso and Venice as an interconnected city-region of 2.6 million people guides this study. Venice ranks as among the most dynamic and productive city-regions in the OECD, with high employment levels and growth rates. Though it has thrived on a model of small firms and industrial clusters, it is undergoing a deep economic transformation. Venice confronts growing environmental challenges as a result of rising traffic congestion and costly infrastructure pressures, exacerbated by sprawl. Demographics are also changing, due to ageing inhabitants, immigrant settlement and the rapid depopulation of the historic city of Venice.  

This report offers a comparative analysis of these issues, utilising the OECD’s metropolitan database to benchmark productivity and growth. It draws on regional economics, urban planning, transportation studies and hydrology to throw light on the changes within the city-region. In light of planned inter-city rail extensions, the Review calls for programmes to increase economic synergies between Venice and its neighbours. It evaluates key tools for promoting economic growth and metropolitan governance and proposes enhanced co-ordination of land use policies, additional business development services for small and medium-sized businesses, and the enlargement of university-linked innovation. Given frequent flooding, the report appraises the quality of metropolitan water governance and Venice’s potential to become a powerful reference for climate change adaptation.

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Effective water governance: from instability to resilience

Faced with complex hydrological issues, including flooding, water supply security and water quality management, improved water governance could benefit economic development, historic conservation, and quality of life throughout the Venice city-region. This chapter both provides an overview of the main politico-hydrological challenges and proposes key recommendations for improving water governance. The first two sections outline the main water resources in the city-region and discuss the possible impacts of climate change. A series of incipient proposals for climate change adaptation will be evaluated. This is followed by an institutional mapping of what some observers call a “byzantine” structure of water governance, with multiple overlapping agencies and regulatory bodies from the Italian government, Veneto Region, provinces and municipalities. The second half of the chapter summarises key governance issues and “gaps” in the Venice city-region; e.g., “gaps” pertaining to information, co-ordination, funding, capacity, administration and policy. It briefly discusses the consequences of these governance gaps, focusing on Lagoon flood protection and water quality management. The final section explores strategies for improving water governance and concludes with a set of suggested recommendations for urban water governance in the Venice city-region. These include recommendations pertaining to greater vertical and horizontal co-ordination (multi-level and integrated governance), long-term planning, and integration of broader ecological and economic development considerations into water governance.

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