Imagine a network for civil protection and disaster risk management experts in Europe. What if that network allowed policymakers and researchers to share knowledge, experiences and good practices to better cope with future disasters?
Well, that network exists! It’s called the EU Civil Protection Knowledge Network, run by the EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department. It is a growing community of civil protection experts with various initiatives – take a look at some!
The Knowledge Network connect experts, policymakers and researchers operating in civil protection and disaster risk management from the member and participating states in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
People working in civil protection and disaster risk management can benefit from an inclusive and needs-based network that is participatory and flexible to adapt to changing and emerging risks.
Who can be involved in the Knowledge Network?
Launched in December 2021, the Knowledge Network gathers civil protection and disaster risk management experts in a growing community.
Policymakers, practitioners and researchers will benefit from stronger ties between science and disaster management, increased access to guides and tools and networking opportunities to share and learn.
As it builds up, the Knowledge Network is focusing first on boosting well-known and successful existing activities like training, exercises and exchanges.
It will gradually introduce other initiatives such as an online platform, community events and additional exercises in challenging scenarios.
What does the Knowledge Network mean in practice?
The EU Civil Protection Mechanism training programme helps experts to work together as part of the Mechanism.
For example, a new online course on Aerial Forest Firefighting (AFFF) Capacities Training started this year.
Targeted at staff involved in preparedness and response, it covers preparing to host aerial forest firefighting capacities, requesting them, and what to expect during the response phase.
Exercises better prepare expert teams and equipment for international deployments under the Mechanism.
This is done by testing coordination, procedures, safety and security in realistic scenarios like floods and wildfires.
Recent exercises like EU MODEX Turkey, ResponSEE, and DOMINO enhanced preparedness and collaboration among civil protection authorities and teams.
Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič said: “Live simulations provide a unique and much-needed opportunity for emergency personnel to come together to strengthen their preparedness for large-scale disasters.”
The exchange of experts in civil protection programme allows experts to spend time abroad to share experiences and gain new operational skills.
Several countries have been involved in these exchanges. In September 2019, the State Fire and Rescue Service of Latvia took part in an exchange with Germany that focused on good practices in chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear related incidents.
In another exchange, firefighting teams have been pre-positioned in Greece during the 2022 forest firefighting season, meaning firefighting were already in place ready to support local and national response.
Sotir Lazarov, a pre-positioned firefighter from Bulgaria, explained: “Despite being from a neighbouring country to Greece, we have such different climate and vegetation. It was a very good opportunity to see things from our Greek colleagues’ eyes: different firefighting tactics, different dynamics of the fires, and different wind behaviour. Our strength is in our knowledge.”
Partnership and community building
The Knowledge Network provides spaces to bring together the civil protection and disaster management communities and collaborate on several themes. An example of this is wildfires and forest fires.
One of the Knowledge Network partnership projects is AFAN, which focuses on forest fires analysis through a European expert knowledge-sharing network - especially relevant during the forest fire season.
Peer reviews & advisory missions
EU peer reviews on disaster risk management allow countries or regions to reflect on their readiness to cope with natural hazards and human-induced disasters.
On request from a national government or the United Nations, experts from EU member and participating states can go on prevention and preparedness advisory missions. They give tailor-made support and advice for a better response to disasters.
The Knowledge Network’s scientific activities are bringing closer the scientific community, policymakers and practitioners through innovation, partnership, and knowledge-sharing.
These science activities include valuable tools to identify risks and gaps in knowledge, and events to collaborate and network – e.g., a workshop where a research institute on wildfire modelling and firefighting staff train together to plan for a forest fire season.
Knowledge Network projects in the science and research field communicate research findings and support their use in an operational context.
How to find out more?
Visit the Knowledge Network platform.
Story by Letizia Storchi, EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.
Publication date: 12/09/2022