Valdur Lahtvee and Katie Goldie-Ryder, both working at the CBSS Secretariat in Stockholm, reflect on the synergies between climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction and on their tasks in the CASCADE project:

VL:  CBSS is the sole coordinator of the Horizontal Action Climate of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) and at the same time also the co-coordinator of the Policy Area Secure of the EUSBSR. Therefore, it was natural that daily interaction of respective experts in the house encouraged us to launch the seed money project, which eventually became CASCADE.

KGR: The fact that both of our teams are under the CBSS umbrella makes it easier to work together across different sectors, and to bring together the different networks in these respective areas.  

Within the project, the CBSS is responsible for organising a region-wide policy dialogue on the UN Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction – the global plan to prevent new risks and reduce existing risks of hazards such as droughts, wildfires and floods. Within this task, Valdur and Katie are organising meetings with experts from different Baltic Sea Region countries and collect information directly from the field:

KGR: Together with a colleague, I organised consultations with all the Focal Points for the Sendai Framework in the Baltic Sea Region (DK, DE, EE, FI, LT, LV, NO, PL, and SE) on the current state of play in their countries. The consultations went well, and I was so grateful that they took the time to chat with us. The result of the consultations was a report that I assisted on: The Sendai Framework in the Baltic Sea Region: challenges – good practices – way forward

Most recently, I organised, together with MSB (the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency), the policy dialogue in Sweden, the first one in the project. It was very interesting to hear how the municipalities deal with real-life issues such as floods and forest fires. I am particularly happy with the fact that many of the questions raised in the meeting will be answered by the training course, which will be prepared within the project.  

VL: With my 35 years of expertise and knowledge of the environment, energy and climate issues I have been contributing to the report The Role of Local Governments in Adapting to the Climate: Overview of regulatory requirements and support mechanisms in the Baltic Sea Region, helping colleagues compile another report on climate risk drivers, hazards, and consequences in the Baltic Sea Region and support preparation of the training materials. I also promote the project results via the haclimate.eu website.

Both Katie and Valdur point out the lack of cooperation and coordination in preparing for climate change both internationally and between local and national authorities:

KGR: The fact that significant cooperation does not take place, means that it is more difficult for countries to adapt to the new reality. Resources and knowledge must be combined in order to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. Different sectors and levels of governance, both within and between countries, must work together.

VL: Adverse effects of climate change are most severe for local communities, but today most of the local governments lack both knowledge and resources to be properly prepared for that in their planning. There is need for systematic support from the national authorities on adaptation planning, access to additional funding, and information for local adaptation. In many countries there is a need for clarity in division of roles and responsibilities between national and local authorities to tackle complex climate risks.

 Despite the obstacles, Katie and Valdur are hopeful and expect a lot from the project:

VL: I expect that the project helps increase all relevant actors’ capacity to understand, assess and treat current and future climate change related risks on the local level. Also, the universities around the Baltic Sea will have access to the curriculum on Climate risks assessment and Disaster Risks Reduction prepared by the CASCADE project.

KGR: I hope that CASCADE demonstrates to the decision makers the urgency of taking climate change risks into account, in national risk assessments and national capability assessment. It also encourages them to provide sufficient resources for a practical response. I want BSR to be a forerunner and example of good practices.

Text by: Andriy Martynenko

Photos: Valdur Lahtvee and Katie Goldie-Ryder by Andriy Martynenko

This is an article of the series “Introducing CASCADE Project Partners”.