Heads of the National Disaster Management Authorities from Eastern Mediterranean pledge to take actions to reduce climate change impacts
21 October 2022, ATHENS – Heads of National Disaster Management Authorities from Eastern Mediterranean met in Athens today to participate in the first ‘European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction (EFDRR) Roadmap 2020-2030’ action-oriented dialogue on ‘Inclusive and Collaborative Systems for Heat and Wildfire Risks Governance’. The action-oriented dialogue was co-organized by the Ministry of Civil Protection of Greece and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR). It contributes to regional efforts on climate change adaptation and supports the implementation of the ‘EFDRR Roadmap 2021-2030’ and the ‘Arab Region’s Prioritized Plan of Action 2021-2024’, as well as the ‘Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030’.
During the past summer, many countries in the Eastern Mediterranean region and beyond have experienced periods of extreme temperatures and heatwaves, causing devastating wildfires that have resulted in burnt areas being four times greater than the 2006-2021 average across Europe, according to the European Forest Fire Information System . An enhanced understanding of measures to manage wildfire and heat risks is urgently needed to address the increasingly long wildfire seasons that are impacting more areas and populations than before. Furthermore, the recent IPCC report has identified the Eastern Mediterranean region as a climate change “hotspot” and indicated that the region will experience warming that is 20% higher than average.
The climate emergency calls for strengthened collaboration between countries to develop common strategies for addressing extreme temperatures and heatwaves as well as to share experience that contribute to the prevention of wildfires and curb the devastating impacts of these hazardous events. The participants discussed adaptation to extreme temperatures, including the adoption of nature-based solutions, particularly in urban areas, as well as the need to shift from a focus on fire suppression to prevention to address the increasingly violent and rapidly spreading wildfires. They discussed cross-border compatibility and use of data for climate projections, forecasting and early warning systems. More than 150 participants, including ministers, experts, and stakeholders from the region, attended four sessions of the hybrid event.
The Ministerial Roundtable focused on sharing experiences, identifying solutions, and enhancing the political momentum and commitments to address the risks and impacts of extreme temperatures, heatwaves and wildfires, whilst accelerating the implementation of the Sendai Framework in the region.
Mr. Christos Stylianides, Minister for Climate Crisis and Civil Protection, in his opening remarks, said: “We have the opportunity to discuss at a high political level, because we all agree that business as usual is simply not enough. Today’s Action-oriented dialogue aims at engaging all stakeholders, the whole of society, in our combined efforts to boost cooperation in the region. Therefore, we should capitalize on existing structures, taking advantage of the successful European Union Civil Protection Mechanism to act as an umbrella for promoting regional cooperation in the East Mediterranean. I am confident that this meeting will mark the beginning of a process which will actually implement actions. There is still much to be done, but our societies want us to continue working towards building resilient cities, regions, and countries.”
Ms. Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, highlighted: “There is an urgent need to ramp up disaster risk reduction as part of the solution to address the climate emergency, while raising and achieving climate ambition”. She further called the countries “to work towards creating a world with Zero Climate Disasters. A future, where extreme temperatures, heatwaves and wildfires do not have to devastate. For that, we must enact the changes that reduce the impact of future crises.”.
The action-oriented dialogue included three technical sessions that focused on the role of technology in tackling climate issues; empowering local authorities and local partnerships to address climate change, develop local resilience plans, adapt to the extreme temperatures and heat waves; and the implementation of a whole of society approach to resilience-building, which ensures that groups at risk are included in disaster risk reduction processes. These technical sessions exchanged on lessons learnt and gathered recommendations on the way to advance regional cooperation on the respective topics, which fed into the outcome document presented at the Ministerial Roundtable.
Participating countries and entities:
lbania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Egypt, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Palestine, Romania, Türkiye, Council of Europe, Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Initiative for South Eastern Europe, European Commission, Union for the Mediterranean.
About the EFDRR Roadmap 2020-2030
The European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction Roadmap 2021-2030 supports the Sendai Framework's coordinated implementation of disaster risk reduction and related Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals. The Roadmap 2021-2030 builds on the 2015-2020 Roadmap and lessons from the Covid-19 response and recovery. The new Roadmap recommends four action areas for accelerating the implementation of the Sendai Framework’s priorities and to create a more disaster-resilient region by 2030:
- Understanding and communicating existing, emerging and future systemic risks;
- Inclusive and collaborative systems for governance and decision-making;
- Supporting investments in resilience;
- Preparedness for response and resilient recovery.
Find out more here.
About the Arab Region’s Prioritized Plan of Action 2021-2024
The Prioritized Plan of Action 2021-2024 was developed and endorsed by Arab states as an outcome document of the Fifth Arab Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, hosted by the Government of Morocco in November 2021. The Prioritized Action Plan 2021-2024 aims to provide measurable DRR actions under each of the four priorities for action of Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction to support the implementation of the Framework and the Arab Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction and its Programme of Work. Arab states convene twice a year together with all relevant stakeholders and UN agencies to follow up on the implementation of the Prioritized Action Plans and discuss progress, challenges and gaps with the aim to put forward recommendations for accelerating the achievement of the set targets. The first Prioritized Action Plan was prepared after the endorsement of the Arab Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction to cover the period from 2018 to 2020 and was adopted by Arab states as an outcome document at the Africa-Arab Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, hosted by the Government of Tunisia in October 2018.
About the EFDRR Action-oriented Dialogues
The EFDRR Roadmap action-oriented dialogues are a series of multilateral thematic dialogues led by governments, in partnership with UNDRR, aimed at sharing experiences and developing adapted policies and actions to address pressing disaster risk reduction-related issues, and to enhance transboundary cooperation to accelerate the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.