Do you remember when, in an April morning in 2010, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland erupted, leaving thousands of travellers stranded and costing billions to the economy? Or how in the summer of 2003, Europe was hit by an extreme drought and heat wave with a severe human and economic toll?
Europe is vulnerable to most types of natural disasters. Catastrophes such as heatwaves, floods or wildfires are expected to become more frequent and intense in the future meaning preparation to mitigate their impacts is vital.
ENHANCE, an EU-funded research project which started in 2012, has been working with 24 partners in 11 European countries to develop novel ways to enhance society’s resilience to natural disasters. The project has studied 10 case studies on risk reduction of catastrophic events, related to everything from alpine hazards to railway transport to volcanic eruptions impacting air transport.
The ENHANCE project partners have just published a book ‘Novel Multi-Sector Partnerships in Disaster Risk Management – Results of the ENHANCE project’, which sets out the outcomes of the 4-year project. Here ENHANCE highlights that managing risks by means of stakeholder partnerships and widening the risk information basis are critical for effective risk reduction.
Managing risk through partnerships
The tendency of different institutions and sectors to work in isolation from each other has meant that substantial opportunities for information exchange and innovative solutions in preparing and responding to disasters are being missed. By putting Multi-Sector Partnerships (MSPs) at its core, ENHANCE has sought to tackle this issue. Ten MSPs between public, private and civil society actors were established or developed in different contexts and situations, with an emphasis on the financial sector.
‘Governments can’t do everything by themselves and the private sector has an interest in risk reduction’, says Ralph Lasage, ENHANCE project manager. ‘They can play an important role when it comes to economically efficient measures to reduce risk. For example, if insurance companies provide good risk information, they can encourage people in a given area to take certain risk reduction measures and in turn reduce their premium. In that sense, reliable access to quality information can stimulate a positive response that makes economic sense for all stakeholders.’
Multiple success stories at local, national and European levels
The ENHANCE project has delivered concrete scientific and political results at the EU, national and local levels, with outcomes ranging from promotion of knowledge sharing to policy recommendations.
Among other successes, the Wadden Sea Forum in Germany has plans to include the impact of climate change as part of their MSP’s work. As well as this, the Rotterdam Port Authority in the Netherlands, together with the Municipality of Rotterdam and the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, has committed about €200 000 for further analysis of the risk that climate change poses to the harbour, which is the largest in Europe, in order to increase awareness and stakeholder communication and to develop an adaptation strategy.
Beyond local and national levels, ENHANCE has contributed to a number of new European and international policy frameworks. For example, several of the project’s case study partners have given input to the UN Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, which is a 15-year, voluntary, non-binding agreement which recognises that while the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk, the responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders. The project also provided input to the European Commission’s Green Paper on the insurance of natural and man-made disasters.
‘In fact, all case studies provide good examples of how the project has developed and shared knowledge with stakeholders – valuable intelligence they now need to act upon’, says Ralph Lasage.
Access here the pdf version of the book.
Note to readers:
Project acronym: ENHANCE
Participants: The Netherlands (Coordinator), Italy, Austria, UK, Belgium, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, Romania, Iceland
Grant agreement no: 308438
Total cost: € 7 687 123
EU contribution: € 5 992 084
Duration: December 2012 – November 2016