The I-STORMS Strategy addressed to national/regional key players of the ADRION basin aims at suggesting the most effective way to deal with management of data and forecasts and related Early Warning procedures. The strategy is based on the findings of the I-STORMS Guidelines and provides a link with the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and a consistency with the European legislative framework.
Climate change has created a new reality with more intense and destructive extreme weather conditions and the results are more catastrophic than ever. Hence, it is necessary that the cooperation mechanism be developed in order to be able to cope with the new challenges related to climate change effects. Current efforts shall be strengthened, while new technologies will be used in order for draft and implement effective strategies.
The I-STORMS project aims precisely to give an answer to these events in terms of prevention and early warning, and in doing so, to provide citizens, civil protection and authorities with the tools to develop appropriate management measures to deal with territorial challenges connected to coastal flooding in the Adriatic-Ionian (ADRION) region.
Although the coasts of the ADRION basin are very exposed to storm events, Early Warning Systems are not widespread to deal with them and even civil protection procedures for managing the potential risk must be defined and improved. Sea storms coastal flooding emergency and response planning is a minor part of general “Flood emergency and response plans” and there is often no specific procedure for emergency responses to sea storms.
Facing new challenges of coastal risk, which involves a large number of people and infrastructures along the Adriatic-Ionian coasts, requires an integrated approach between ADRION countries but also between the different sectors that are involved in each country in risk assessment and management.
A strategic approach can help all ADRION countries in managing coastal risk through cooperation and the exchange of knowledge and good practices, working on two levels:
1) International level, which includes transnational cooperation for information and data exchange and integrated risk management
2) National level, which concerns the development of legislation, plans and tools for managing sea storms risk coordinated between the state, regions and local authorities.
I-STORMS Strategy for reducing coastal risk at a National and International level is mainly based on 4 pillars:
- Data & Information sharing for integrated tools
- Cooperation & Coordination
- Communication & Stakeholder involvement
- Exercises & Volunteers
The strategy starts from sharing data, tools and information at all levels to meet the need for reliable forecasts, monitoring data and all the information useful in preventing and dealing with weather-marine phenomena. These data and forecasts, shared between the countries along the Adriatic-Ionian basin, must allow for the creation of early warning procedures connected with predefined risk scenarios taking into account vulnerability and exposition of territories and cost/loss models.
In addition to the integrated and interoperable databases, it is essential that those human resources that perform the activities required by the alert systems are guaranteed.
Currently Civil Protection volunteers are a fundamental and important resource for event monitoring and emergency management and without them the efficiency of the whole mechanism would be compromised. It is therefore important to promote laws, procedures and mechanisms that strengthen those staff in charge and extend the resources of civil protection volunteers.
Cooperation among ADRION partners is ensured even beyond the duration of the project through a permanent cooperation table at the Adriatic-Ionian basin level to evaluate annual developments and tools in the coastal risk sector and to discuss and make the existing and new tools available as well as their implementation. In order to strengthen intra-regional and national coordination among stakeholders it is important to build effective Governance structures and to create thematic networks for the sharing of knowledge and good practices.
Further still, the enhancement of communication through institutional channels, responding to users’ information needs, is an important step in increasing the effectiveness of warning systems and their results in terms of reducing damage to people and property.
Institutional sources that are recognized and perceived as reliable, in particular those closest to local level, should give all available and useful information clearly to citizens. Communication protocols have to be identified and used to satisfy these requirements.
It is important to develop communication strategies coordinated between the different levels of governance (national, regional and local) and these must take into account all the types of recipients to whom they are addressed.
Also at international level it is essential that the communication codes and messages are coherent and standardized and so allowing for better understanding for those moving between the different countries.
Information on these issues is essential and should start from schools with specific training. Coastal communities have to be prepared and this is possible through appropriate education programs. Even with near real-time warning systems, sea storm events and tsunamis require rapid reactions from potentially affected populations in order to prevent damage. It is therefore important that coastal communities be equipped with appropriate emergency response plans.
Governments alone cannot address risk management. The opportunity to involve stakeholders in the management and communication of sea storm risk is recognized as fundamental, in particular Civil Protection associations, port authorities, beach manager cooperatives and other sea-related activities, schools and all potential stakeholders in the tourism sector. Engaged communities enable priorities to be better defined and actions planned, responding to real (mostly local) needs and concerns and bringing about long-term change.
Finally it is fundamental that the alert systems and defined intervention models are tested by the operators of the system, but also by stakeholders and coastal communities, in a practical way through exercises and so providing feedback on their effectiveness as well as critical issues encountered in order to improve the response to storm surge events.
Final remarks concern some technical, political and managerial aspects that must be overcome for the strategy implementation and that arise from the analysis of the civil protection systems and of the coastal risk management procedures in ADRION countries (partners of the I-STORMS project) performed to develop Guidelines and Strategy:
- the countries of the ADRION basin have a different scientific and technological level that could make it difficult to develop homogeneous and integrated tools, so it is important to make sure that the products developed meet the different requirements of the different countries involved (perhaps in a modular way) and are based on free and open source software.
- The partners of the ADRION basin must carry out the pillar activities both internally (at national and local level) and by collaborating with the outside (international level), but often it becomes difficult to carry out a complex process simultaneously; it is necessary to find governance structures that make this coordination possible.
- Often each institution and different country develop tools and products autonomously without exchanging with other institutions and countries and this leads to a redundancy in the different projects that could be overcome by greater optimization, but there is not always a willingness to exchange and rationalize data and models; it is important to spread the idea that cooperation is an added value for all.
The complete Document of the I-STORMS Strategy is available below: