As part of the NEEDS 2020 conference, that takes place in Östersund, Sweden, from March 10-12, 2020, Cordula Dittmer (DRU), Daniel F. Lorenz (DRU) und Per Kleist (Berlin Fire Department) organize a panel about “Trans-boundary disasters in Europe: Past experiences and future challenges”. Submissions are possible until November 17, 2019: https://www.needs2020.com/about-needs/panels/
Historically, disaster management in Europe evolved as the primary responsibility of national states. Since 2001 the Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM) has been facilitating assistance between EU member states in case national capacities are overwhelmed by extreme events. As such, the UCPM relies on national capacities and the willingness of states to aid others.Past events have shown that administrative/national borders do not contain disasters but rather that trans-boundary disasters are becoming the new normal in Europe.
For instance, the floods events of 2013 affected several countries, many European countries faced the humanitarian and refugee crisis in 2015/16, and in recent years forest fires raged in several European countries at the same time leading to shortages in aerial fire suppression capacities. By implementing the Emergency Support Instrument (ESI) in 2016 and the rescEU initiative, which became operational in 2019, novel instruments have been developed by the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO). They enable humanitarian aid missions within the EU or to establish a common pool of capacities for large scale events such as forest fires, floods, or humanitarian emergencies.
Additionally, bi- and multilateral agreements on joint disaster management have been concluded in border regions, for instance in the Baltic Sea region. Given climate change, scientists argue, that natural hazards will increase both in frequency and magnitude. Furthermore, critical infrastructure breakdowns, pandemics as well as CBRN events might also play a role in the future for trans-boundary disasters in Europe.These developments can be expected to challenge national disaster management structures as well as European mechanisms in terms of responsibilities, capacities and operational practices (leadership, communication, etc.).
The panel invites presentations both from practitioners (e.g., disaster management, fire services, and aid organizations) and academics that analyze past trans-boundary disasters, current developments within the EU and possible futures in terms of challenges, scenarios and instruments.