STAC-CBRNE Reference Group meeting on 8-9 October 2018 in Riga was the third meeting in the project Strengthening the Transnational Capacity of the Management of CBRNE Agents related Emergencies, funded by the Swedish Institute. During the first two workshops, the partners identified common gaps and capability challenges in crisis management of hazardous substances in the Baltic Sea Region and developed a concept of “Treff” – a large Baltic Sea Region CBRNE networking forum. The establishment of an institutionalised network of CBRNE stakeholders in the Baltic Sea Region was widely supported by the Directors General for Civil Protection in the BSR, during their 16th Meeting in May 2018.
The meeting in Riga gathered STAC-CBRNE project partners to discuss the next steps in organising a pilot BSR CBRNE ”Treff”. State Fire and Rescue Service of Latvia co-organised the meeting and invited prominent CBRNE experts from Latvia.
The meeting was opened by the CBSS Secretariat’s Senior Advisor for Civil Security, Janusz Gąciarz and welcomed by Dace Šatrovska, the director of the State Environmental Service Radiation Safety Centre and the Deputy Chief of the State Fire and Rescue Service of Latvia, Kristaps Eklons, who stressed that “improving cross-border capabilities will promote safety and security across the region.”
Led by the CBSS Policy Officer for PA Secure (EUSBSR), Nina Jernberg, the meeting provided participants with a mix of discussions on planning the pilot “Treff” and exchanging knowledge and experiences on preparedness and response related to hazardous substances. Eva-Maria Engdahl, Head of Sector, Protection, Crisis Management and Terrorism, EC DG Home, provided an overview of the DG Home priorities and endorsed the “Treff” initiative as timely and needed.
The partners from Finland took the lead in the “Treff” preparation. During the meeting, Vesa Truhponen, Coordinator of the Emergency services training centre of West Finland proposed a venue (Pori, Finland) and a preliminary programme for the forum. The partners in the project took this proposal into consideration and gave their opinions on potential funding sources, timeline (late 2019 – spring 2020), potential speakers and the content as well as volunteered to become members of the working group to prepare a funding application for the forum.
The next section of the meeting was dedicated to the Latvian speakers, sharing experiences in hazardous materials management from Radiation Safety Centre of State Environmental Service of Latvia, State Fire and Rescue Service of Latvia, Latvian Institute of Chemical Physics, Center for Disease Prevention and Control, and Latvian Meteorological Centre.
The meeting finished with a “match-making” workshop, led by the CBSS Project Officer, Andriy Martynenko. The workshop created an interactive environment where the participants could get answers to concrete questions related to their daily CBRNE work directly from their peers from other agencies and countries, which also helped to form close personal relations. The participants found the “match-making” workshop format very useful for enhancing their professional capacity and proposed to include a similar workshop in the upcoming “Treff”.