CONCLUSIONS OF THE WORK SESSION SEE URBAN IN OPATIJA

OPATIJA 16.-18. 9. 2017.

Disaster risk reduction is a multidisciplinary issue.
While planning for emergency situations the following factor shall be taken into account:
vulnerability, available capacities, identified risks and the exposure of vulnerable groups to the identified risk with an analysis of risk as time passes. With the aim of disaster risk reduction it is necessary to focus on the role of civil society and especially their relationship to vulnerable groups.
The goal of disaster risk reduction is focusing on the influence of risk on vulnerable groups and how civil society can help mitigate the risk of disasters.
During three global conferences held in 2015 and 2016 new documents for the politics of disaster risk reduction were adopted:
– The Sendai Framework with Global aims and Priority action for DRR 2015-2030
– The Sustainable Development Goals SDG
– The Paris Agreement on climate change
As a result of the World humanitarian summit held in June 2015 a document came out, that consists of three chapters:
– the area of convergence between global directives
– six natural disasters ( earthquake, landslide, flood, drought, heat wave, wildfire) and technological incidents
– vulnerable groups of the Western Balkans and reasons for their appearance
– identifying vulnerable groups of the Western Balkans and explaining the key for the identification
Chapter two talks about natural disasters and disasters due to human activity. Many disasters are a result of irresolvable problems while managing risks and consequences of wrong choices concerning the development of a particular area. It shows that risks of disasters are connected to the location and are dynamic, as well as that spatial planning and the use of programme tools for spatial planning is extremely important for managing risks because natural risks know no boundaries. Civil Protection Mechanism is focused on strengthening cooperation between the Union and
member states as well as facilitating coordination in areas of civil protection in order to improve the efficiency of the prevention system, preparedness for and response to natural disasters and disasters due to human activities. The Mechanism shall principally ensure protection of the population, environment and property, including cultural goods, from all forms of natural disasters and disasters due to human activities, including ecological disasters, marine pollution and health emergencies, occurring inside and outside of the Union.
The role of regional and local authorities in managing disasters is very important. Hence regional and local authorities shall be appropriately included in the activities implemented pursuant to the decision of the European Parliament and the Council establishing the Civil Protection Mechanism in accordance with national structures and regulations of member states.

The priorities of the Sendai politics for disaster risk reduction and big catastrophes are primarily focused on:
– establishing and strengthening the coordination between state organizations, that are comprised of relevant participants (operative forces) at national and local level, such as national and local platforms for disaster risk reduction;
– active participation of regional and local platforms for disaster risk reduction and thematic platforms in global platforms for disaster risk reduction. All in order to create effective partnerships and secure the provision of a timely response to big catastrophes and disasters;
– improvement of collaboration between participants at local and regional level, primarily via associations and non- government organizations with the aim of raising awareness of climate changes and disasters risks;
– the support of developing local, national, regional and global systems and services for information exchange about good experiences, politics, plans and measures for disaster risk reduction, that are because of their cost- effectiveness and technological simplicity acceptable to the user.
The goal of the SEE URBAN project is in accordance with the SENDAI politics, notably in regards to strengthening cooperation at local and regional level on the territory of urban disaster risk reduction, establishing partner networks and a database with implementation documents in the area of disaster risk reduction. Also, by exchanging experience and by mutual cooperation it is our intention to strengthen the knowledge of our partners at local/regional level on the topic of urban risks.
Strengthening the prevention and role of local and regional levels in the area of urban risks, are the basic preconditions for a timely response in order to disaster risk reduction. It is precisely for this reason that the cooperation between the local and regional self- government units on the project SEE URBAN and their inclusion in the global platform is so important. It will ensure better communication and strengthen the prevention in the area of urban security in countries and the territory of South East Europe.

Report of the Regional Meeting as part of the Project „SEE URBAN”

The Regional Meeting was held in Opatija in Croatia, as part of the Project” SEE URBAN –Building of the South East Europe Urban Resilience Action Network”, from October 16 to October
18, 2017. The Regional Meeting was organized aiming to exchange the DRR experience and strengthen local institutions’ capacities involved in reducing the risks from natural disasters and other accidents in seven states/territories of South East Europe (Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo 1 and Albania) as well as strengthen international cooperation in the area of disaster risk reduction.
The Meeting was attended by high representatives of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, the Croatian Parliament, UNDP, UNESCO, as well as representatives of institutions and
associations from all seven countries covered by the SEE URBAN project and representatives of the Croatian Counties and Cities Disaster Risk Reduction Platform. The Platform is one of the most
important regional partners in the implementation of the above mentioned project and meeting. In the introductory part of the Regional Meeting the importance of gathering and exchanging
experiences of experts in the field of civil protection in the South East Europe were emphasized, as well as the importance of the SEE URBAN project in strengthening the capacities of regional and
local self-government units and institutions dealing with disaster risk reduction and disaster risk management.
It was followed by presentations of seven representatives, from countries participating in the project, about the current state of their civil protection systems, disaster risk management and disaster risk models, as well as the possibilities of improving the DRR system and solving the existing issues of a civil protection system that is the same or similar throughout the entire area of the South East Europe.
The presentations were also held by representatives from UNDP, UNESCO, and educational institutions (Department of Cultural Studies at the University J. J. Strossmayer in Osijek), who
discussed the topics as follows: Presentation of best practice examples of DRR activities in SEE; Drawing insights from the UNESCO experience in Science and Culture for DRR; Social
Vulnerability / Risk Perception indicators in support of assessing DRR systems. Also, a panel discussion was held, during which all meeting participants were actively involved. The panel discussion was interactively organized so that anyone could ask questions electronically, i.e. via an application where participants could ask questions anonymously and give
their own comments and opinions, but the answers to the questions and the overall discussion was held orally and publicly.
At the end of the Regional Meeting, models of joint regional co-operation in the area of disaster risk management in case of natural disasters and other accidents were presented and
examples of best practice in the area of overcoming natural disasters were highlighted.

The importance of further cooperation within the SEE URBAN project was emphasized as well as the development of the action resilience in the area of South East Europe with the aim of
establishing the cooperation in the field of disaster risk reduction at local/regional, national and international levels. This could ultimately have a positive effect on national DRR platforms and on
networking of regional and local participants in the entire area of the South East Europe region. Also, the Final Conference was announced as part of the SEE URBAN project, which is going
to be held in October 2018, in Macedonia. As part of the Regional Meeting, a demonstration exercise was held in Šapjane near Rijeka.
The exercise was attended by representatives of the emergency services of the City of Rijeka, as well as civil protection organizations from the territory of Rijeka. They demonstrated the search of ruins using special equipment with the help of search dogs as well as rescuing people from ruins, heights and depths, and triage of injured people and medical care.
During the exercise, video-sharing was provided on the SEE URBAN project website, so that besides participants of the Regional Meeting the exercise could be seen by the wider local and
international public. The overall event was organized by the Croatian Counties and Cities Disaster Risk Reduction Platform in cooperation with institutions and participating countries of the SEE URBAN project. The event gathered a large number of colleagues and experts in the area of civil protection from South East Europe, who have strengthened the existing network of Urban Resistance (DRR) in South East Europe by exchanging their own knowledge and experience.
The importance and the potential of the DRR story was also recognized by the media, that have adequately presented the Regional Meeting and the demonstration exercise to the public.