Moldova, Georgia and Armenia benefit from cooperation with the EU in the frame of the EU Neighbourhood Policy. They are vulnerable to all kinds of disasters. Moldova has a particular high risk of floods, windstorms, droughts, landslides and seismic events. Because of its specific geographic location and mountainous areas, Georgia is prone to a wide range of disasters caused by natural hazards. In Armenia approximately half of the country‘s territory and 80% of the population is exposed to catastrophic events. Armenia is deemed one of the most disaster prone countries in the world. All countries are participant in the PPRD EAST 2 programme.
‘Understanding risk’ by means of substantiated risk assessments is priority 1 of the UN Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Priority 2 of the Sendai Framework is to ‘strengthen disaster risk governance’. In recent years, the EU has developed powerful instruments under the Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM) helping countries to implement these priorities. In 2010, the EC issued the ‘Risk Assessment and Mapping Guidelines’ to support Member States in preparing national risk assessments. In 2015 the ‘Risk Management Capability Assessment Guidelines’ have been developed, to assist the self-assessment of DRM capabilities. Another important policy instrument under the UCPM is the Peer Review programme for DRM, to assist countries in the assessment of the strengths and weaknesses in their DRM system. These instruments focus on the country as a whole, at national level. However, to make a society more resilient to disasters and to improve the capabilities to deal with risks, it is equally important to understand risks and work on a better DRM system on sub-national level.
The Safety Region South-Holland South and ITINERIS/Houdijk Consultancy were both involved in the Interreg IVc project MiSRaR, the DG-ECHO funded projects PRISMA and CRISMAS and the EU Peer Review Programme. In our experience local and regional governments with their stakeholders network are the foundations for actual concrete and targeted DRM action ‘on the ground’, in such fields as urban planning, preparedness and community resilience. This is demonstrated clearly by the international focus on the development of ‘resilient cities’. However, this requires local capacities and knowledge about DRM principles, insights in the risks on local level, a good understanding of the own capabilities, strong coordination and cooperation between all stakeholders and policy fields.
We have learned that excellent DRM results can be reached with the development of strong local focal points for DRM and resilience, motivated stakeholders and policy advisors in other policy fields who are aware of the interdependencies with DRM, if supported by instruments for local risk assessment, local capability assessment and local risk management planning and a good focus on cross-border and cross-sectoral exchange of information and ideas. In a lot of cities across Europe there is a lack of such knowledge and coordination. This requires strengthening, especially in the neighbourhood countries, with their resource limitations. The idea of the CapaCities project was to initiate the development of resilient cities, starting from the very basics of DRM capacities: local coordination and local expertise for risk assessment and risk management planning. The project has built these capacities, using a tailor-made curriculum and EU instruments, such as the DRM self-assessment and Peer Review, adapted for sub-national use. This has resulted in strong local focal points, knowledgeable local stakeholders and a concrete local DRM strategy for improvement of the own risk management capabilities in the years to come. These objectives have been reached with strong involvement and commitment of all relevant local stakeholders and in line with EU policies and instruments.
Three cities in EaP countries – that have been cooperating with each other in the past – have followed the curriculum, got insight in their own DRM situation with self-assessments and peer reviews and worked on their risk management strategy. This wasn’t just beneficial for these three cities, but their experience and the curriculum documentation and instruments are also a transferable example for other cities in those three countries and all other neighbourhood countries.