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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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Towards a competitive city-region

The economic potency of the Venice city-region derives from its unique combination of unusually strong local communities and an outward-looking, export-oriented economic system. The industrial district model has been highly adaptive and this chapter recommends that policy makers confront three cardinal challenges by capitalising on the city-region’s entrepreneurism, flexibility and cosmopolitanism. First, competitiveness could be bolstered by a regional innovation system, which could improve the relative weakness of science-based technological innovation in the tradable manufacturing sector. A specific approach towards SMEs is required, given their predominance in the Venice city-region’s economy. Acquiring business development tools and strengthening trade associations through business development services would better position SMEs to connect with university departments, private companies, suppliers and their clients. Second, Venice city-region needs to introduce new skills into its labour market and achieve improved labour market integration for designated groups, such as women and older workers, i.e., those in the 55-64 age bracket. Policies to upgrade and adapt the skills of the labour force are critically assessed along with their ability to create inclusive labour markets, especially for immigrants, women and the oldest segment of the working population. Third, more initiatives would enhance connectivity between Padua, Treviso and Venice to ensure the dynamism of the city-region as an organic and synergistic whole. Connecting Venice to the outside by improving rail-port connections and curbing sprawl from the inside through promoting denser urban development merit prioritisation in a metropolitan economic strategy.

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