The Environment and Economics of Coastal Lagoons

The lagoon of Venice is a unique and complex system of interconnected components, and its preservation is of undeniable vital importance. Research, understanding and awareness of the numerous elements that make up the system are indispensable if we wish to make solid progress in the coming years.

The summer course on "The Environment and Economics of Coastal Lagoons" is a collaboration between the SIE, the University of Utrecht and the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti which will offer students an overview of what is involved in managing the waters, the coasts, the interactions and the legal and economic challenges related to the Venetian lagoon.

Dates: July 17 - 28, 2017 (2 weeks)

The course consists of 10 morning classes which will be held in the majestic Sala delle Adunanze at the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti in Campo Santo Stefano, and various afternoon visits to relevant locations around the city of Venice.

Target group

Reference level starts with students at the end of Bachelor programmes with basic knowledge of physics and mathematical principles. Students in Economics, Management, Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Natural Sciences, Geosciences are encouraged to participate, but otherwise the course is open to students from all backgrounds and subjects.


The objective of the course is to provide the student with an overview of some important issues concerning lagoons, port economics and regulations. Emphasis will be put on the unique case study of Venice, a location where a lagoon, a port and a major touristic destination coexist. Insights will be given on:

  • Coastal environment morpho-dynamicsand main driving processes, with particular focus on coastal barrier systems and lagoons;
  • Physical, ecological and human interactions in coastal lagoons;
  • Economical and management challenges related to the Venice lagoon and port.

Topics and content

1. Lagoon Environment Morpho-dynamics – Enrico Bertuzzo and Andrea D’Alpaos

This series of lectures aims to provide basic concepts for the analysis of the long-term morpohodynamic evolution of lagoons, focusing on role of biogeomorphic processes on their morphological equilibrium and dynamics:

  • Morphodynamic drivers: Tides, waves and sediment transport;
  • Biomorphodynamic processes lagoon landforms;
  • Ecogeomorphological feedbacks of water fluxes, sediment transport and vegetation dynamics in salt marshes.

2. Lagoon Ecosystem – Enrico Bertuzzo, Antonio Marcomini and Fabio Pranovi

These lectures provide fundamental concepts to understand lagoon ecosystems:

  • Trophic chain, ecosystem functions, ecological indicators and ecosystem services with reference to the Venetian lagoon;
  • Water and soil quality, ecological risk assessment.

3. The Venetian Lagoon and its future - Enrico Bertuzzo and Andrea Rinaldo

The lectures focus on the historical, current and future measures adopted to protect the Venetian lagoon:

  • Sediment budget and historical measures to protect Venice and its lagoon;
  • Climate change, sea level rise and flood protection in the Venetian lagoon: Mobile floodgates MOSE and other measures.

4. The Venetian lagoon as a complex system – Paolo Campostrini

This series of lectures offers an overarching view of the physical, ecological and economical challenges related to the management of a lagoon, focusing on the Venetian lagoon as an emblematic case study.

5. The Economics and Management of Ports and Transport – Paolo Costa

The aim of this module is to provide students a conceptual framework for understanding and analyzing the major global trends and issues related to the world of transport and logistics. Particular focus will be placed on ports, in as much as they are gateways for trade coming and going from EU to the rest of the World, and how these activities can be made sustainable even within a fragile lagoon such as the Venetian one by means of an innovative port system. 

Lecture 1: Framework of the global economy and future scenarios - International maritime trade and shipping lines market; the origins and the future of the trans-european transport nework (TEN-T) - The China One Belt One Road Strategy and the XXI° century Maritime Silk Road

Lecture 2: The North Adriatic Port Strategy – The Venice Offshore Onshore Port System: a case study of sustainable large scale port activities in the Venetian lagoon

6. Maritime and Port Law – Leonida Giunta

The course focuses on the development of the normative framework governing port activities and enterprises, dealing with harbor infrastructures planning, management and financing. It will consist of the following parts:

  • Overview of the juridical regime of ports in the European Member States;
  • Institutional structures of the port governance, namely architecture of ports and different organizational forms, with a glance at the recent or future reforms
  • Port services: harbor operations and complementary and additional performances. Technical-nautical services (pilotage, towage, mooring) and services of general interest. Market access and competition issues;
  • Port environmental law conventions and regulations.
file pdfSchedule
"The Environment and Economics of Coastal Lagoons" (draft version)

How to apply

Registration for summer 2017 is now closed. Dates, application procedures and costs concerning the future edition of the workshop will be soon available on this webpage.