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Our session at EU Civil Protection Forum

Scaling up prevention – through increased cooperation within and across EU macro-regions and their strategies

As coordinators for Policy Area Secure in the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) the CBSS Secretariat and the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency organised a break-out session at the European Civil Protection Forum 2018, in Brussels, Belgium. The session: Transnational cooperation for effective disaster risk management took place on 5 March under one of the four pillars of the Forum: Scaling up prevention.

The idea for the session was conceived already in November 2017, during the first information and knowledge exchange meeting between the coordinators working with security and climate issues in the four EU macro-regional strategies, and representatives from the European Commission (DG ECHO, DG REGIO, and DG CLIMA), organised by Interact.

The added value of the strategies in the regional context is that they promote cooperation through offering a platform for stakeholders to connect to each other and to initiate dialogue. The additional dimension, currently being explored, is the use of synergies that can arise when the strategies work together bringing the different regions of Europe closer to each other.

In the session all four EU macro-regional strategies – the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR, from 2009), the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR, from 2010), the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR, from 2014), and the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP, from 2015) – presented their unique perspectives on transnational cooperation, and how they use their strategy as a platform for initiating and carrying out various types of cooperation activities.

The main themes, addressed by all the speakers, included the importance of involving all levels, including citizens, in cooperation efforts; cultivating common goals, values and common societal security culture; intensifying cooperation by cultivating personal contacts, and widely disseminating the lessons learned.

Read about the session in more detail below.

Stéphane Jacobzone, Counsellor, Reform of the Public Sector – Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), moderating the session, highlighted a report published by the OECD in 2017: “Reviews of Risk Management policies, Boosting Disaster Prevention through Innovative Risk Governance”.

Professor Bengt Sundelius, Strategic Adviser to the Director-General, Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), represented Policy Area Secure and the EUSBSR. Professor Sundelius highlighted several important aspects of how to strengthen prevention: “Societies are evolving all the time, and we need to be forward-looking in our risk assessments … we have to apply the model of learning by doing, rather than just learning by reading … we need a whole-society approach, where local authorities, civil society organisations and volunteers are all involved”. He also stressed the importance of programmes such as the Baltic Leadership Programme, in building transnational connections needed to address large-scale crisis situations affecting several countries. Finally, Prof. Sundelius suggested that a benchmarking of the national implementation of the United Nation’s Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction should be encouraged.

Environmental Risks Coordinator from the EUSDR Károly Gombas, emphasised that “the EUSDR is an institutional framework that supports cooperation in the region”, and stressed the importance of different levels in disaster risk management: “we need to inform and engage high-level stakeholders in order to initiate a broad range of EU international projects”, however, “a single general cannot win a war, we need to train ‘soldiers’ – engineers, experts in the field with experience to deal with complex problems, affecting many countries at once”.

Florian Rudolf-Miklau, Head of Torrent and Avalanche Control Department, Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism, Austria, represented the EUSALP, highlighted the importance of risk-adapted regional development and risk governance as a cross-cutting issue, calling for engagement of all stakeholders: “we need to involve people – all people – in disaster risk management”.

The representative from the EUSAIR, Mitja Briceilj, State Secretary of the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, Slovenia, explained the work in the Adriatic and Ionian Region on the ”green“ coastal approach which created new green areas for the public to use, and stressed that: “it is highly important to work on the management plans”.

Angelo Masi, Professor of Structural Engineering, University of Basilicata, Italy, put the focus on the importance of prevention related to the construction of seismic-safe buildings: “We need to learn more from past earthquakes, and we need a continuous feedback loop between lessons learned and prevention”. He further emphasised that prevention needs to have a whole-society approach: “We need to build a culture of prevention with citizens who are: informed, aware, and then finally – active”.

Read interviews with the panelists and organisers in the special issue of the PA Secure Newsletter



Civil Protection Forum 2018