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Cross border territorial cooperation is key to manage disasters and deserves more funds  

​Local and regional elected representatives call on the Commission to provide more incentives at local and regional level to promote cross-border cooperation on risk reduction. The opinion of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), adopted today in Brussels, comes in the context of the increasingly serious and frequent natural disasters that many European regions have experienced in recent years. Local authorities have expressed support for a greater culture of prevention to increase citizens' resilience and reduce risks related to natural hazards.

The document highlights the key role of local actors and their responsibility to decrease the risks associated with natural hazards and build resilience. Local and regional authorities are in the best position to know the weak points of local communities and it is up to them to conduct information campaigns to inform people about the risks and how to protect themselves.

The rapporteur of the opinion Cross-border dimension of disaster risk reduction, Roberto Ciambetti (ECR/IT), highlighted the need for preventive action. "Environmental emergencies and natural disasters do not recognise borders: we must create more harmonious and organic cross-border and transregional coordination and we must create effective civil protection structures in cross-border areas which, let's not forget, are where 37.5% of the EU's population live."

Every year, around 90 000 people die in disasters caused by natural hazards and almost 160 million are affected worldwide. Between 1980 and 2016, disasters caused by weather and climate-related conditions accounted for about 83% of financial losses in the EU Member States.

"More coordinated interventions and procedures help to optimise the response and thereby reduce the social, environmental and economic costs. There needs to be a more effective multi-level governance approach in addition to the existing EU instruments – the Civil Protection Mechanism and the Solidarity Fund," the President and Member of the Veneto Regional Council stated. The Sendai Framework for 2015-2030 (SFDRR) can be implemented more effectively through cross-border cooperation, particularly in regards to civil protection policy.

The document also highlights the importance of existing initiatives to reduce the risks related to natural disasters at the local level, such as the Making Cities Resilient campaign by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.

According to the European Committee of the Regions, risk prevention and management plans should cover risk scenarios at an interregional level. The opinion also reiterates the need to integrate capacity to significantly reduce the effects of disasters into all EU investment policies. Disaster risk assessment should be a prerequisite for implementing infrastructure projects funded by the EU.

Local and regional elected representatives underscored the need to promote a common, standardised cross-border alert system and called for standardised communication on prevention as well as common procedures for operating in case of an emergency. They also called on Member States to recognise and certify professional posts ("disaster risk managers") with multidisciplinary and cross-cutting knowledge, skills and competences who would assist local and regional administrators and planners in emergency situations.

Notes for editors:

  • The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 is a non-binding agreement concluded in Sendai (Japan) on 18 March 2015, which aims to reduce the number of natural disasters by making cities more resilient.
  • Its predecessor was the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015. The action plan signed on the International Day for Disaster Reduction seeks to translate the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 – a voluntary international approach to policy and actions in disaster risk management – into proposals for local and regional governments. The action plan strengthens the partnership between the CoR and the UNISDR, which began in 2012.

Additional information:

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the Committee of the regions - Strengthening EU disaster management: rescEU, responsible solidarity

CoR opinion: Action Plan on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 - A disaster risk-informed approach for all EU policies

Wioletta Wojewódzka 
Tel. +32 2 282 22 89

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