Cooperation is the key to addressing several significant natural disaster threats Europe is faced with, European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic stressed on Monday during a visit to Athens.
The commissioner addressed a European Civil Protection Mechanism workshop on the lessons learned from the 2021 forest fire season.
Greece was one of the countries that suffered the most, as wildfires this summer decimated over 100,000 hectares of forests and farmland.
Delegations of officials and experts from the European Union (EU) member states gathered in the Greek capital for a two-day event that will focus on prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.
“We are moving towards a greater, increased risk, primarily thanks to, or due to, the climate crisis … This was a very difficult summer for a number of countries and in particular for Greece,” Lenarcic said during a joint press briefing with Greek Minister of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection, Christos Stylianides.
“We need to exchange experience, we need to exchange good practices that were used and we need to see what we can do in the future to prepare for next year’s fire season and beyond,” the commissioner added.
The 2021 forest fire season saw one of the largest EU Civil Protection Mechanism deployments in Europe in the last ten years, noted a press release issued by the European Commission, adding that in a world affected by climate change, this summer offered a glimpse into what future summers might be like.
In 2020 the European mechanism received zero requests for assistance by member states, while this summer approximately 100 requests were made, as member states could not address the wildfires on their own, Stylianides noted, stressing that climate change is progressing at full speed, increasing risks.
“We are already late and we have to rush as fast as possible to limit the impact. We know that unfortunately natural phenomena such as floods and wildfires will not disappear. The question is how will we upgrade our services technologically to reduce tragic repercussions,” the Greek minister said.