Disasters don’t affect all communities the same way. Poor people and socially disadvantaged groups are the most exposed and suffer most directly from these events. Yet, they are often not taken sufficiently into account in prevention strategies.
At EUR-OPA, we have followed since 2011 the Ethical Principles on Disaster Risk Reduction and People’s Resilience. These statements bring together the disaster risk reduction concerns of the Council of Europe, with practical solutions and recommendations for vulnerable groups.
Natural and human-made disasters can seriously damage or even completely destroy monuments, historical sites and cultural landscapes. The degradation of heritage has negative consequences not only socio-economically, but also in identity-generating values and cultural diversity.
To protect cultural heritage, EUR-OPA is promoting risk culture and disaster resilience by cooperating with initiatives such as the Faro Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society and the European Landscape Convention.
Education, training and information are the basis to raise awareness and develop clever risk prevention policies, both for communities and for experts.
EUR-OPA, within a European Programme of Training in Risk Sciences, supports initiatives to promote Risk Sciences at all educational levels: schools, universities and professionals. These include conferences, seminars, online repositories and postgraduate trainings.
Most risk prevention and management depends on legislation, which can vary greatly between states or countries. Usually, nations look to neighbouring countries for potential improvements to their own protocols. However, hazards and disasters are not confined within national borders.
To further improve the management of risk issues, EUR-OPA provides a network of Specialised Centres that aims to create a global approach in governance through international prevention and response projects.
Although it’s not a short-term risk in and of itself, climate change can increase the risk of existing disasters, such as floods, storms, droughts and heatwaves. Moreover, in the long-term, it can lead to new hazards, such as sea level rise.
At EUR-OPA, we are exploring the impact of climate change on cultural heritage and ecosystems that are already at risk, and on the appearance of new water related hazards.
Along with prevention, EUR-OPA is also involved in the recovery phases after a disaster. In this context, the need to rebuild infraestructure often overlaps with the need to take care of survivors.
This is why our efforts are put into improving the professional support to victims of disasters, not only in the short term (psychological first-aid) but also in a longer term (post-traumatic stress therapy). We achieve this by cooperating with the European Federation of Psychologists Associations.
The EUR-OPA family is open
States can join the Major Hazards Agreement, a platform for co-operation that benefits all members.