The regional conference Disaster Risk Reduction – Trans-border cooperation between Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, organized by Caritas Serbia and Public Investments Management Office of the Republic of Serbia, was held in Belgrade on the 30th and 31st of May, gathering numerous actors engaged on the field of prevention of natural disasters.
In the light of the new encyclical of Pope Francis «Laudato si’» about ecology the director of Caritas Serbia Rev. Vladislav Varga called all the participant to think about the way we threat our planet. He pointed out some of the activities of Caritas in the field of disaster risk reductions, like cleaning the river beds, which prevented another disaster already this year. The director of Caritas Bosnia and Herzegovina mons. Tomo Knezevic pointed out that only with a common approach we can make changes.
The deputy director of the Public Investments Management Office of the Republic of Serbia Sandra Nedeljkovic said that the cooperation of all relevant institutions is very important and since natural disasters have no borders its necessary to have a better cooperation on the regional level, so that prevention measures could be more efficient.
The head of the Sector for Emergency Situations of the Republic of Serbia Predrag Maric pointed out that it’s necessary to increase the levels of prevention and work on this field also when there’s no danger.
Samir Agic, from the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina spoke about what has been done during and after the floods in 2014 and pointed out the importance of dialogue about this topic on the highest political level.
Ivan Baras, assistant of the head of the Sector for Emergency Situations, in charge for international cooperation, spoke about different projects and activities that the Sector is having on this field, especially about cross border project of emergency situation teams.
Irina Kulenovic from UNRCO spoke about the influence of hazards on everyday life, which can destroy years of investments in just one day. According to the human development calculations Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have lost 5 years of development due to the damages caused by the floods in 2014.
Zarko Petrovic, a representative of UNDP Serbia pointed out the importance of improving systems of cooperation on the regional level, especially for the hazards that are common to more countries.
Zoran Dizdarevic from the Public Investments Management Office presented the reform of the legal framework on the field of disaster risk reduction through the “Law on reconstruction after a natural and any other disaster” and “Law on disaster risk reduction and government in urgent situation”.
On the second day of the conference the participants had a chance to speak about the role of civil society organizations in the field of disaster risk reduction. Marina Kostic from Caritas Serbia and Dijana Muzicka from Caritas Bosnia and Herzegovina presented the activities of Caritas in the field of disaster risk reduction, together with their colleagues.
The work of Caritas has been directed to the education of children and trainings for the representatives of local communities, with the idea to organize different ecological actions of disaster prevention and preparedness for other possible natural disasters. Only in 2015 numerous successful actions of cleaning the canals, afforestation, educational activities in schools and trainings of farmers about climate changes have been organized.
The Red Cross coordinator of the project “Preparedness for natural hazards” Dula Losonc presented the work of this organization, through organizing a series of exercises in municipal emergency headquarters and educational activities for children.
Marija Levicanin from the Serbian Orthodox Church Foundation “Philantrophy” presented the work of its foundation in this field, by organizing trainings in local communities who suffered damage from the floods in 2014.
Some of the conclusions of the conference are that it’s necessary to have a better cooperation and networking between different actors on this field, from the governmental institutions and from the civil sector on the regional level, in order to face common dangers in a unified way, form a network of trained volunteers, who would know how to react in emergency situations, continue with prevention activities in schools and with the educational activities for children, young people and adult members of the local communities, about climate change, ways of prevention and reaction in urgent situations.
Download the conclusions and recommendations from the conference