MOSE project in Venetian Lagoon, Italy


The MOSE (Experimental Electromechanical Module) is an infrastructural work intended to protect the city of Venice and the Venetian Lagoon from flooding. The project, consisting of 78 mobile gates, with the total length of 1,6 km and weight of 300 tons, installed at the Lido, Malamocco and Chioggia inlets, will isolate the Venetian Lagoon from the Adriatic sea during tides more than 110cm high.

See more...
Basic Data
NameMOSE project in Venetian Lagoon, Italy
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Dams and water distribution conflicts
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Ports and airport projects
Urban development conflicts
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Climate change related conflicts (glaciers and small islands)
Specific Commoditiesflood protection
Ecosystem Services
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe MOSE includes 78 mobile gates positioned at the three inlet and divided into 4 barriers. At the Lido inlet, there will be two rows of gates of 21 and 20 elements respectively linked by the artificial island Novissima, one row of 19 gates at the Malamocco inlet and one row of 18 gates at the Chioggia inlet. The gates consist of metal box-type structures (20 meters wide for all rows, with a length varying from 18.5 to 29 m. and from 3.6 to 5 m. thick), connected to the concrete housing structures with hinges (42 tons each), the technological heart of the system, which constrain the gates to the housing structures and allow them to move. The housing structures are positioned into the lagoon bed of the three inlets between 6 and 14 meters below sea level. Here complex levelling was carried out (the seabed must be flat where the barriers are installed) and the lagoon bed was reinforced to accommodate the gates (which rest on on 12.500 concrete piles driven underground for metres).

Compressed air will be pumped into the gates when a tide of more than 110m height is expected. The air will rise up the barriers to the surface of the water to block the flow of the tide and prevent water from flowing into the lagoon. When the tide drops, the gates are filled with water again and return to their housing.

The MOSE project also includes strengthening of the coastal areas, raising the quaysides and paving of the city.

The level of investment has increased considerably compared to the initial budget, from 3,4 to 5,5 bn €. The annual technical and energy costs for the operation of the Electromechanical system are unclear.
Project Area (in hectares)55,000 [Venice Lagoon]
Level of Investment (in USD)7,491,353,400.00 USD (5,493,000,000 € )
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population110.000 [city centre population of Venezia and Chioggia and inhabitants of the islands of the lagoon]
Start Date2005
Company Names or State EnterprisesConsorzio Venezia Nuova (CVN) from Italy - General Contractor
Relevant government actorsThe Comitatone is the body responsible for policy definition, coordination and control of implementation of all activities to safeguard Venice and the lagoon. Set up by Art. 4 of Law no. 798/84. Components: President of the Council of Ministers, Venice Water Authority, Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, Ministry of the Environment and Land Defence, Ministry of the Cultural Heritage, Ministry of Education, Universities and Scientific Research, the Veneto Region, Province and city of Venice and Chioggia, Municipality of Mira, Cavallino-Treporti Local Authority.
International and Financial InstitutionsEuropean Investment Bank (EIB)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAssemblea permanente no mose, Comitato no grandi navi Associazione ambiente Venezia, Italia Nostra – Venezia
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Land occupation
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Appeals to the european parliament
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Other Environmental impacts
OtherThe Lagoon of Venice is a system in unstable equilibrium with a specific hydrogeological balance and a unique ecosystem governed by the clash between the freshwater of the rivers and salt water from the sea. Anthropic activities have had in the years strong environmental impacts on the lagoon, on the amount of water entering the lagoon and thus on possible floods.These activities have included the reduction of the flow of the lagoon basin (a few parts buried to create fields and industrial zones) and the deepen of the major entrance channels to allow the entry to the bigger ships. The further deepening of the channels, as required by the MOSE, and the consequent more intense water exchange with the sea, would cause a significantly increased erosion of the lagoon bed. The project caused measurable damages to the lagoon environment during the lengthy building phase – like the dunes in Ca’Roman and Alberoni and the Secca del Bacan [3].

The designed system would react to events (high tides in excess of 110 cm) whose frequency is unknown. If the 110 cm limit will be trespassed frequently (from 100 to 250 times a year according with previsions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report 2007) the lagoon would become a closed basin and the pollution would became deadly (all town sewers flow into the lagoon, and depuration is done through the tidal water exchange).
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Criminalization of activists
Land demarcation
Strengthening of participation
Development of AlternativesOver the years there have been several alternative proposals to the MOSE project. In 2005 the municipality of Venice issued a call for projects for alternative interventions at the inlets. The more accredited project is called gravity mobiles gates presented by the Ing. Di Tella [4] similar to the MOSE structure but consisting in a different technology and lower costs.

Local movement and environmental associations claim that any intervention on the lagoon should be constant, small and widespread, trying to eliminate the causes of high water, rather than the consequences; and aiming to restore the ecosystem of the lagoon.

This would include a reduction of the sea water intake to bring the shapes of the port mouths and of the access channels back to conditions compatible with the sustainable navigation inside the Lagoon. This crucial intervention clearly contrasts with the needs of oil traffic, which should be banned (as the law dictates since 1973), and the continuing passage of the huge cruising ships.

The movement highlight that the guidelines to be followed are indicated in the first special law to safeguard Venice requiring “gradual, experimental and reversible” interventions.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The MOSE is currently under costruction, the mobilization was concentrated in the Venetian area, was unable to get broad consensus and stop the project.

The big scandal for corruption in the MOSE project that was made public in June 2014 confirmed and corroborated longstanding concerns clearly expressed by the Assemblea Permanente No Mose.
Sources and Materials

Legge Obiettivo 2001
[click to view]

[1]Legge 16 aprile 1973, n° 171 Interventi per la salvaguardia di Venezia (First Special Law for Venice, Interventions to safeguard Venice)
[click to view]


[2]Principia Study commissioned by the Venice Municipality, 2009
[click to view]

[3]Report L’ambiente delle bocche della Laguna di Venezia in relazione ai lavori di realizzazione del sistema Mo.S.E della Direzione Ambiente e Sicurezza del Territorio, Osservatorio Naturalistico della Laguna, 2006
[click to view]

Telegraph articles, MOSE arrests, 06/2014
[click to view]

La Laguna di Venezia e gli interventi proposti, E. Salzano, 2008
[click to view]

Laura Carbognin, Pietro Teatini, Alberto Tomasin, Luigi Tosi. Global change and relative sea level rise at Venice: what impact in term of flooding. Climate Dynamics (2010) 35:1039–1047

il article on the MOSE project
[click to view]

[4]LA PARATOIA A GRAVITÀ, Di Tella, 2005
[click to view]


Venice municipality website
[click to view]

Online articles
[click to view]

MOSE project website
[click to view]

CVN website
[click to view]

Local movement against big ship website
[click to view]

Media Links

MOSE project video
[click to view]

Other Documents

High tide in Venice credits:
[click to view]

MOSE system Credits:
[click to view]

MOSE floodgate credits:
[click to view]

NO MOSE Credits:
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorMarianna, CDCA (
Last update25/08/2014