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CIVIL PROTECTION FORUM 2018: INTERVIEW WITH Mitja Bricelj, State Secretary, Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, Slovenia

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, Mitja Bricelj, State Secretary, Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, Slovenia: 

“In your opinion, how does an EU macro-regional strategy, as a platform, contribute to increased resilience of communities?”

“Based on experiences gained within the Sava River Basin, related to the flood risk management, the EU macro-regional strategy contributes to the increased resilience of communities in a way that is recognized as an appropriate framework for coordinated financial support the actions/measures for the mitigation of flood risk. Key prevention actions in the case of a flood risk, like: land use planning (urban and regional), flood zoning, regulations (buildings, streets, city, region), property acquisition and relocation, planning development control, within the resilience approach adds features like building social connectedness and improving the integrated disaster risk management. Developing community resilience benefits disaster/flood risk planners and community members taking into account that the community resilience expands the traditional preparedness and prevention approach by encouraging actions that build preparedness while also promoting strong community systems and addressing the many factors that contribute to the integrated disaster risk management.”

“Can you give a concrete example of how cooperation on prevention creates added value?”  

“Although it is a part of the preparation actions, but also very much used by the prevention processes within the flood risk management cycle, the establishment of a joint Flood Forecasting and Warning System in the Sava River Basin – Sava FFWS, surely shows how transnational cooperation creates added value, in this case, to the national forecasting systems.

Sava FFWS is currently implementing, as an open shell platform, allowing a wide range of external data and models to be integrated. This concept is particularly important for the five cooperating Sava countries, where different forecasting systems and models are already in use. The resulting system will enable the Sava countries involved to take the right management decisions and implement operational measures to prevent and mitigate severe flood risk situations. With these systems, developed through the cooperation of countries within the scope of work of the International Sava River Basin Commission, the Sava countries will be better prepared for emergency situations like the one that occurred in May 2014, when disastrous floods in the Sava basin resulted in 79 casualties and substantial economic damage. Sava FFWS is a very special regional concept taking into account that the Sava River Basin (97,700 km2) is shared by five countries: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia. Each country has its own models, monitoring systems, forecasting systems, water authorities, and interests. This regional, basin-wide concept, will bridge such differences and support collaboration in the field of flood management keeping the countries’ own autonomy in monitoring, modeling and forecasting and remain open to developing its own models and supplementary forecasting initiatives. The system is assessed as an added value to existing or developing systems, expecting that a common forecasting platform with well-trained staff should provide better preparedness and optimized mitigation measures to significantly help reduce consequences of floods.”