2020 – a year of great changes

The President of the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation, Mario Tonina, summed up a year marked by the Covid emergency, and by a need to rethink tourism in the Dolomites: a year that has clearly shown the need to take care of this fragile region, put to the test by the exceptional weather events of early December. There was also some important news in relation to the work of the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation: after seven years as our director, Marcella Morandini is leaving to take up a new professional challenge.

“We are so grateful for the work
and active commitment of Marcella Morandini”

President Tonina began with this tribute: “I learned of Dr. Morandini’s resignation with great regret. We will sorely miss the expertise of someone who has played a vital role in making the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation an international model for management of a World Heritage Site. However, I am sure I express the view of all the members of the Board of Directors in saying that the work carried out by Morandini in recent years will have a lasting impact. In collaboration with local communities, she established an effective way of managing the Dolomites Site, which respected differences but also tried to overcome them, to achieve the shared objective of actively conserving the Heritage itself.”

“I am looking forward to taking on a new professional challenge”, explained Marcella Morandini in a note to the Board of Directors.  “I feel satisfaction in the fact that I am leaving a Foundation that has changed significantly since 2013, when I was selected for the post.” The outgoing director mentioned that the Cortina Secretariat now has the services of 5 young, highly qualified and motivated employees, a budget that has tripled since 2013, and the imminent prospect of moving to new offices in Acquabona, thanks to the support of the Municipality of Cortina and ANAS. She then gave special thanks to all the “guys” in the team, to the Presidents and all the members of the Board of Directors who have served over the years, to her family for their support, to colleagues in the Regions and Provinces that share in the Heritage Site, to the members of the Scientific Committee, and to the various networks of professionals, officials, supporters, economic operators and members of civil society.

Hopes for the challenges ahead

We close the year with a new challenge, because all the events of 2020 also present us with challenges in planning for 2021. As President Tonina pointed out: “Summer made it necessary to adapt hospitality to the pandemic; it changed the role of mountain hut managers, and at the same time created a need to manage mass tourism and, if necessary, fix a quota on numbers. Winter has arrived and with it the great question of diversifying our offer. Covid restrictions have certainly forced this on us, but it should also be seen as an opportunity to move more decisively towards sustainability. And finally, there is the fragile nature of the mountain regions, which we must tend ever more carefully, to prevent as far as possible events such as those of early December. Although, as always, the people of the Dolomites confronted these situations with skill and courage.”

Morandini ended her letter by offering best wishes to all those who live in the Dolomites, or come here as visitors. But there is still some way to go before everybody understands the meaning of UNESCO recognition, the associated responsibilities, and the full role and potential of the Foundation. As usual, this is a matter of an evolving cultural process – one that we all have a duty to encourage.”