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Results so far : 16th Thematic Seminar: Creating Mitigation Networks

Date: 25-07-2012 - 26-07-2012
Time: 00:00 - 00:00
Location: Aveiro


The 16th thematic seminar will be the last exchange of experiences seminar before the final closing conference in Dordrecht. As a red line through all the project seminars, the partners concluded that creating and maintaining mitigation networks is crucial to obtain sustainable mitigation goals. During the 16th seminar partners will focus on this subject in special. They will use the seminar to discuss how the added value of international partnership in general and how the local and international MISRAR networks will support the further strengthening of mitigation capacity after the conclusion of the project. 



The objective of this seminar was to exchange experiences related to the added value of networking in the context of risk disaster mitigation. During the first day all partners presented networking scenarios in the context of risk mitigation.

The day started with a presentation of Aveiro on their network approach. Aveiro interprets networking primarily as cojoint operations in the field of risk management. They provided examples of how they cooperate with risk partners and which role they play. Aveiro presented a number of specific cases of disasters and their role in the network of partners when they occur (for example through the provision of food). The main dilemma in this context for Aveiro is the question what they should do when a partner, essential to involve shuts itself from the other partners, refusing to communicate and to assume any kind of responsibility. The presentation of this dilemma resulted in a lively discussion among the partners.
Mirandela highlighted an example of refusing cooperation. During forest fires, population often cover their swimming pools so helicopters don't have access to these waters. Another example is denying the fire brigade passage to a forest fire along essential private passage ways. The essential questions is how to involve these target groups in the risk management network. Partners provided solutions to these problems from their own regional experiences. It was agreed on that mutual awareness on risk mitigation is essential before involving them. This proves to be difficult as many envisaged parties often don't acknowledge their involvement. ZHZ proposed an approach that starts out with addressing understanding how all partners are linked to each other within the context of these risk management networks.

The presentation of Aveiro was followed by Mirandela on best practices on networking within their municipalities. Mirandela developed a specific awareness campaign focused on the citizens as they are responsible for 40 percent of the occurring forest fires. The project is co-financed by the national government and implemented in cooperation with over 100 villages and perishes. Also here it is key to show the added value for the target group through information provision but also direct contact with students and other people like priests and local civil protection agents that can reach the target groups. Mirandela indicates that it is crucial that campaigns are focused in the "language" of the target groups when targeting reduction of risk behaviour. It is important that the activities are implemented as a network activity.

The third presentation was given by EPF on their networking experiences in Bulgaria. As a network organisation this is naturally a crucial element for success. EPF presented in this context the work of the inter-ministerial commission on disaster relief. The commission controls the granting of finance from the state budget for mitigation and disaster response related initiatives. Regional governors, the association of municipalities and others are involved in the commission to ensure sufficient involvement of all stakeholders. The network involvement is organized in a way that depending on the specific target regions, stakeholders like the regional governor are invited to present their views on the situation for the commission. This view is based on specific consultations with the local mayors. This trapped systems ensures involvement of all relevant players within the risk mitigation work. Each level of government has its own specific responsibility on a financial level as well.

ZHZ presented The Dutch Delta programme as networking activity, connecting safety and (spatial) development. It is an elaborate example of an all over involvement of all relevant stakeholders in the field of flood protection both at state and non-state level. Laws have been implemented that require all partners to cooperate. The national government redrafted the new Delta Programme for the coming decennia focused not as a reaction to disasters, but to prevent future disasters. This programme is updated every year. The DP has a multilevel governance approach, in which different levels of government cooperate in 9 subprogram teams. Network activities include joint fact finding, collecting creative and innovative ideas, combining local developments, involve stakeholders and interest groups and build acceptance at stakeholder and target group level.

The morning closed off with a speech of the vice mayor, indicating that MiSRaR provided an important fresh impulse for the risk mitigation work in the city of Averio and they consider the MiSRaR project as very important to the towns safety and hope to continue the cooperation after closure of the project.

In the afternoon presentations were given by Tallinn, Forli-Cesena and Epirus. Tallinn introduced their networking activities in the context of the different EU projects in the city and how they involve the different stakeholders at the different levels when implementing EU projects. Tallinn also presented how they use the different dissemination channels to promote the MiSRaR for example through regional and national television, articles in nationwide magazines.

Epirus presented a specific case on the safety situation of a Bailey bridge in Thesprotia that was dealt with in a cooperative nature through the use of a safety network. It illustrates how different state actors are necessary to deal with the renovation of the bridge. Through the specific involvement of the army engineer corps that has specific experience with these types of bridges. It was only through the use of this multi level governance approach the mitigation of risks of this bridge was possible and the network of partners proved to be an essential part ensuring timely safety measures. In many cases organizations can not tackle a risk only using their own resources. Effective networking ensures that risks can be tackles in a long term sustainable way. Final point made by Epirus was to avoid too much bureaucracy when dealing with other partners within a safety network.

Forlì-Cesena introduced their approach using the National Civil Protection Network. The network involves actors from all state levels both national, regional and local and civil society. The Emilia-Romagna Region is the first region to implement (by law) an internal structure at regional level. Part of this internal structure is a yearly priority activity including studies and finances. In 2012 the region decided to finance activities dealing with flood risk in the overall region. On the basis of subsidiarity, the 9 provinces created their own regional networks, Forlì-Cesena created a network of technicians and decision-makers. Part of the network activities are trainings, meetings, exchange of experience and also to continuously foster good relations among the different network partners. Issues encountered at provincial level s that there are no regional databases for information provision and lack of training on shared technical issues at regional level, which means that the technicians do not have the same skills and therefore potential implementation power. Also most municipalities do not have a specific unit for civil protection. They are in charge of risk management but in many cases staff does not possess the capacities to implement the risk management activities or even have the time to do so regardless of their capacities. Finally Forlì presented a successful risk management case where the network was successfully involved in a crisis situation in the Forlì-Cesena province. In 2012 due to heavy snowfall the region was declared a crisis region and the a Rescue Coordination Centre was implemented at province level including the province, municipalities and disaster management mitigation stakeholders. Working from a subsidiarity approach and through the well-established relationships in the region, the problems were resolved very successfully.

After the exchange of experiences, the partners held a plenary session on network management, with a specific focus on how to secure your position and their role as a safety professional. Central aspect in this discussion was the idea of a network itself, who should be involved and how this is designed at partner level. Specific issues discussed where the distinction between different kinds of networks and levels of cooperation, how to find the right liaisons to target groups and the how to build structural relationships within a network. The participants concluded that the basis for relationships is creating mutual trust. Do as you say and live up to your promises. Cooperation must be built step by step (incrementally). The best way is to invest in existing networks, not only for safety and mitigation, but also spatial development networks. Also it was agreed that in cooperation between different public organizations often a formal agreement or procedure might be useful, especially to ensure early involvement of safety in spatial processes. This kind of public cooperation should be designed in a way that it is stable over time. Cooperation on mitigation should not be too vulnerable to changes in the political context, because mitigation policies mostly require a long term commitment. Finally the importance was discussed of understanding different interests and finding win-win solutions. It was concluded that the legislation on safety on one side and on spatial development on the other side has to be made more compatible and based on a shared “language” and definitions of concepts.

During the final part of the first day public participation in the mitigation process was discussed in two subgroups. It was concluded that it is best to organize participation in all steps of the mitigation process. People should be made aware of the risks (risk communication on basis of the risk assessment), what they can do to prevent these and to be prepared. Different ways to involve the public were exchanged, like information campaigns, education, exercises and public discussions.

The second day of the seminar was focussed on the organisation of the closing conference in October and how the project network will continue its work after closure of the project. As this was the final thematic seminar of the project, the afternoon was used to wrap up the exchange activities and a field visit was organized to Portucel, a paper factory which has to comply to the EU Seveso guidelines, to see how businesses implement safety regulations and cooperate with government organizations.

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