In preparation for our session “Transnational cooperation for effective disaster risk management” at the European Civil Protection Forum 2018 we asked one of the panelists, Professor Angelo Masi: How can prevention be scaled-up through international knowledge exchange? 

Professor Masi: “Knowledge-sharing is fundamental in scaling-up prevention.

I state that not only because I am a researcher, that is a person who is used to dealing with knowledge. Indeed, I state that because, on one hand, I am firmly convinced that study and research are essential for disaster risk reduction, and, on the other hand, sharing and disseminating their results is mandatory to overcoming barriers in the knowledge-to-action path.

To this regard, the Report of the European Commission on the “Interim Evaluation of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism for the period 2014-2016” stresses that: “Knowledge-sharing, expert exchange and training activities are seen as essential to creating a community of European civil protection practitioners and, ultimately, to ensuring sustainability of the UCPM’s contribution to supporting safer and more resilient societies.”

Further, in the Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions, “A European policy on the seismic requalification of buildings and infrastructure”, approved in October 2017, it is underlined that, in view of the large quantity of private and public buildings and infrastructure requiring rehabilitation in Europe, uniform, Europe-wide criteria should be developed for classifying their seismic risk. This asks for sharing methods and criteria to be used in identifying effective requalification measures, as well as priorities and timescales in applying them.

A second important aspect to point out is related to the analysis of the effects of seismic events and, similarly, of other natural hazards.

As early as 1862, the great seismologist Robert Mallet, in his ground-breaking book on the Great Neapolitan Earthquake of 1857, asserted that: “An earthquake, like every other operation of natural forces, must be investigated by means of its phenomena or effects.” As a matter of fact, the site of a damaging earthquake is an “open-air”, real laboratory from which important lessons can be drawn. But, are they effectively disseminated and, further, applied?

These are crucial questions, especially if we look at the dramatic consequences that earthquakes still cause around the world, frequently despite their low intensity.

To this end, a better exploitation of the lessons learned process is strongly required by developing a virtuous feedback loop between lessons learned and prevention, preparedness and response activities. This process also implies transnational exchange of lessons learned: what is learned in a country during and after an emergency should be shared with other countries that could face similar emergencies.”


Angelo MASI

Full Professor of Structural Engineering

Member of the Board of Directors of ReLUIS Network

University of Basilicata, Potenza, ITALY