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Venice

Soft Power on a Blue Planet

Pursuing Economic and Social Prosperity in a Water Insecure World
4th Venice Soft Power Club Conference


Lessons from the past, strategies for the future, from the most Serene Republic of Venice to the global commons. The role of the European Union. The possibilities for international co-operation in troubled times.


The Institute of European Democrats (IED) was delighted to have hosted the high-level conference, "Soft Power on a Blue Planet – Pursuing Economic and Social Prosperity in a Water Insecure World." This pivotal event took place on August 28, 2023, at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini Sala degli Arazzi in the enchanting city of Venice, Italy.

Inspired by the rich legacy of the Serene Republic of Venice and its global commons, the conference delved deep into the contemporary challenges of water insecurity. In an era marked by rapid change and uncertainty, the role of the European Union and the potential for international collaboration served as a beacon of hope.


Climate change is having a profound impact on the material conditions we face. Through floods and droughts, which routinely hit rich and poor alike, we can see what is to come. Our relationship with water and the sea is changing. We now must begin to adapt our societies and economies to an evolving environment. From the experiences of an ancient city-state that turned its dynamic physical environment into a source of comparative advantage to the geopolitical challenges of a globalized economy in the throes of climate change, we explore what we have done and can do to adapt and thrive in the face of growing water insecurity.

Prof Giulio Boccaletti about the role of the European Union and the possibilities for international co-operation in troubled times.


Video documentation of the event


HRH PRINCE EL HASSAN BIN AL TALAL, Chairman of the Arab Thought Forum

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SARAH EL HAÏRY, Secretary of State for Biodiversity, France

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LORD CHARLES POWELL, Foreign affairs and defence adviser

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AGUSTINO RE REBAUDENGO, President Elettricità Futura

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GIULIO BOCCALETTI, Scientific Director Euro-Mediterranean Center for Climate Change

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SEBASTIAN BUMBOLO, Director of Internation Affairs Gruppo Iren

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LUCIA SILVA, Chief Sustainability Officer, Generali Group

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ANA LUIZA THOMPSON-FLORES, Director of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture, Venice

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YUAN DING, China Europe International Business School

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The event was graced by distinguished figures such as GIANFELICE ROCCA, Vice President of Fondazione Giorgio Cini, LUIGI BRUGNARO, Mayor of Venice, and CARDINAL MATTEO ZUPPI, Special Envoy of Pope Francis. Attendees also had the privilege to hear from leaders like PAOLO GENTILONI, EU Commissioner for Economic Affairs, HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE EL HASSAN BIN AL TALAL, Chairman of the Arab Thought Forum, and SARAH EL HAÏRY, Secretary of State for Biodiversity, France.

Building on recent global initiatives that highlighted the urgency of addressing water-related challenges, the conference served as a nexus for dialogue, partnership, and commitment. The UN Water Action Agenda, with its impressive tally of over 800 commitments as of July 2023, exemplified the collective resolve to confront water challenges through a unified and results-oriented approach. This agenda underscored the global commitment to ensuring a water-secure future by 2030.

The Venice conference by IED successfully amplified these efforts, gathering a diverse group of thought leaders, policymakers, and stakeholders, all united by a common goal.

We thank everyone who followed the event in Venice and stayed connected for the live streaming of the conference on IED's social media channels. Together, we charted a course for a brighter, bluer planet.


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Soft Power on a Blue Planet

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