ROME – A strategic geographical position and a "model of excellence": this is what Italy can boast of in the field of civilian protection. The country is committed on the front lines of the European sphere, in strengthening the cooperation and prevention of disasters in Mediterranean and Balkan countries.
One may even say that the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation in this sector began with Italy, which launched in 1998, together with Egypt, in the ambit of the Barcelona Process (also known as the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership), the EU ‘Pilot’ program, to improve the institutional cooperation between EU countries and partner countries. Among the promoters of the project is Agostino Miozzo, general director of the Volunteer office for international and institutional relations of the Italian civil protection.
"It has been the most responsive program of the Barcelona Process", Miozzo stated, despite difficult political contention marked by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, "but we have not given up; we have held out". And so Italy has continued to play a primary role in the second EU program, ‘Bridge’, lead by France until 2008, and now finds itself at the head of the Euromed Program for prevention, preparation and response to natural and man-made disasters (Pprd South). The program, financed by the EU with five million euros, is run by Italy in tandem with the Civil Protection of Egypt, France and Algeria together with Unsdr, the United Nations agency for the reducing the risk of disasters.
"Our priority this time is prevention", said Miozzo, who today opened a four day workshop in Rome on ‘Geographical Information Systems (GIS) for Civil Protection’ with experts from 14 partner countries (Egypt, Algeria, Bosnia-Herzogovinia, Crotia, Montenegro, Turkey, Israel, Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian territories).
The GIS is modelled after the online system set up and currently used by the Italian Civil Protection, which contains the data bases of all the bodies involved and which permits one to create a map of "at risk" zones.
"We, the countries of the Mediterranean, are all confronted with the same problems", Miozzo explained. "Every week there is some disaster: earthquakes, such as the one yesterday in Turkey, landslides, flooding, without mentioning summer forest fires, a field where cooperation is already working very well".
It is fundamental to prepare those populations that are most exposed, to react in case of a calamity. "It is necessary to create a link between information and territory", Miozzo insisted, "to transform ultratechnological information into clear and simple messages to the population".
"There is nothing secret about civil protection; we must accept to share our information, because our primary objective," Miozzo underlined, "is the security of the citizens of the partner countries, but also that of so many Italians who take vacations in the Mediterranean area".
Source: Vecchio sito IPA