60th Vajont: President calls to “govern imbalances”

On 9 October, the visit of Sergio Mattarella, President of the Republic, to the Vajont Victims Cemetery in Fortogna (Longarone, Belluno) and the dam area (Erto Casso, Pordenone) was the high point of the 60th anniversary of the Vajont disaster, which the United Nations, as recalled by the President himself, defines as one of the most serious manmade environmental disasters in history.

Il Presidente Mattarella al 60° del disastro del Vajont

President of the Republic Mattarella at the 60th anniversary of the disaster of Vajont, ph. Paolo Giandotti

Human responsibility

The speech delivered by President Mattarella, which followed speeches by Massimiliano Fedriga, President of the Autonomous Region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and Luca Zaia, President of the Veneto Region, is a beacon for everyone who is responsible for protecting environmental heritage, even more so if it is recognised by UNESCO as worthy of inscription in the World Heritage List. We feel it is important to share some passages from that speech again: “The tragedy that occurred here bears the weight of grave human responsibility and of choices that were being denounced by people who were paying attention, even before the disaster occurred. Ensuring a secure setting for our community means being able to learn the lessons from the facts and being able to take steps forward”, the President said.

Man must not become
the enemy of nature

The speech continued with a reflection on the role of man in relation to nature and the need to “govern imbalances”. “Man’s interaction with nature is part of the evolution of nature itself. Because man is part of nature, but must not become its enemy.  This is not an exclusively ecological issue. Pope Francis also reminded us of this in his latest exhortation a few days ago. It is a matter of knowing how to pay attention and how to apply foresight in governing the imbalances that call to question humanity and its destinies.”

Trial records to remain in Belluno

Finally, reference was made to the records of the Vajont trial, which were moved from the State Archives in L’Aquila to those in Belluno after the 2009 earthquake, and were included by UNESCO in the International Register of the “Memory of the World” Program on 18 May: “I believe that it is not only appropriate but right that the records of the trial held on responsibilities at the time remain in this region. The documentation was necessarily collected at the location of the criminal trial because it had a judicial purpose at that time. Now that so many years have passed, today the collection serves as a memorial. This is precisely why UNESCO has included it in its Memory Register. And, as befits a memorial, it must be preserved close to where the tragedy occurred, both in order to honour the Vajont victims and as a wake-up call to avoid new tragedies.”