Preventing threats turning into disasters in the Mediterranean Region

Rome, 13 January 2012


Preventing threats turning into disasters in the Mediterranean Region

Assess risks, generate and communicate reliable predictions and effective warnings is the main focus of the workshop on Early Warning System for Civil Protection: from early detection of threats to timely alerts to citizens organised by the EU-funded PPRD South Programme in Arona, Northern Italy, from 17 to 19 January 2012.

25 experts working for the Civil Protection Authorities and Scientific Organizations from the 13 Mediterranean and Balkan PPRD South Partner Countries are gathering on the lake Maggiore for this three-day workshop which will be opened by Peter Billing, Deputy Head of Unit for Emergency  Response at the European Commission Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) in Brussels and Delilah Al Khudhairy, Head of Unit for Global Security and Crisis Management at the European Commission Joint Research Centre in Ispra. The Palestinian Authority will be represented by Mohammed Al-Beiruti and Nafez Al-Sharawi from the Palestinian Civil Defence.

A disaster occurs if a population which is exposed to storms, floods, volcanic eruptions or earthquakes cannot cope effectively with their negative impacts. The workshop will tackle the key role played by early warning and by preparedness in preventing hazardous events turning into disasters.

February 2010: The worst flash flooding event since 1994 hit Sinai in Egypt resulting in significant damage and seven deaths. Thanks to the EU-funded early warning system Flash Flood Manager monitoring the main valley of the Sinai Peninsula, the flooding could be predicted and casualties could be avoided.

March 2011: An 8.9-magnitude earthquake striked Japan's North-Eastern coast. The world's first earthquake early warning system—developed by the country's meteorological agency—detected the quake's shock wave near the seismic centre and sent off the warning message, which appeared on national television and radio as well as cell phone screens, contributing to save lives and critical infrastructures.

These are two examples of tools and techniques that the workshop participants will review for early detection and monitoring of potential hazards. They will be informed about the recent improvements in the capacity of predicting earlier and more accurately potential threats as well as in the possibility of reducing the degree of uncertainty associated with predictions and forecasts.

While early detection is mostly the responsibility of the scientific sector, the capacity of understanding the concrete level of risk and taking appropriate decisions is the responsibility of a modern civil protection organization. In this respect, the workshop participants will better understand the added value of a good collaboration with the scientific sector. They will also learn how to carefully evaluate and consider the costs of taking wrong decisions about “missed alarms” or “false alarms”.

Warning messages, in order to protect lives and property of countries, must be clear, received on time and coupled with the sound knowledge of how to react. Hence, at the end of the workshop, the participants will visit the crisis monitoring room and the research laboratories of the Joint Research Centre in Ispra, where they will experience how growing scientific understanding of hazardous phenomena and advanced use of modern information and communication technologies contribute to save lives and properties.

For more information, please contact: Alessandro Candeloro, +39 349 0850931,

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