On 8 June 2020, the Danish chairmanship of the CBSS Civil Protection Network hosted the 18th Meeting of the Directors General for Civil Protection in the Baltic Sea Region. This meeting concluded the yearlong Danish chairmanship, which was dedicated to climate change, resilience as well as to cooperation with civil society. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Directors General met virtually.

After the welcoming words by the acting Director General of the Danish Emergency Management Agency (DEMA), Flemming Klokager and the CBSS Secretariat’s Senior Adviser Janusz Gąciarz , all Member States gave short updates of their national status in regard to COVID-19 and the role of national civil protection agencies in the response to the pandemic. Several Member States noted that whilst handling the COVID-19 response, they also had to handle other issues such as seasonal flooding and forest fires at the same time.

In addition, relevant updates were given to the implementation of the Joint Position Enhancing Cooperation in the Civil Protection area in the Baltic Sea Region.

CBSS Secretariat briefed on the progress of flagship projects aimed at enhancing BSR capacities within prevention and preparedness, as well as on the seminar on societal security concept and two new projects as part of the efforts in providing research and practitioners with tools to create meaningful connections (NEEDS and ChyResilience).

Following these updates, the DGs took note of the Bornholm Declaration, given by the ministers of the Baltic Sea States at their Meeting on 19 May 2020. The declaration affirmed the need, and value of, enhanced cooperation in the field of civil protection – particularly in the light of COVID-19. The Directors General underlined the need for solidarity among the Baltic Sea States in other cases of massive, unforeseen, natural disasters and humanitarian crises which reduce national crisis response resources.

At the end of the meeting, the Danish presidency reported on the Baltic Excellence Programme that took place in Tinglev, Denmark in November 2019. The three-day programme focused on challenges posed by extreme weather incidents linked to climate change. Both the presidency and the participants deemed the programme as a great success.

The Lithuanian delegation provided the participants with a brief overview of the focus areas of their upcoming chairmanship – namely nuclear and radiological accidents and shared the list of planned events. The upcoming Baltic Excellence Programme will take place in Vilnius, Lithuania, the 25-26 November 2020 under the headline “Baltic Sea Region acting together against nuclear risk”. Lastly, the 19th meeting of the Directors General will take place in Vilnius in May 2021. Both meetings, given the epidemiological situation, might change their format to virtual.

The meeting concluded with the traditional online bell handover ceremony. The chairmanship bell is on its way to Vilnius.