NATO and Disaster Risk Reduction: A Dispatch from Sofia, Bulgaria

From 17 to 19 January, 2017, NATO’s Crisis Management and Disaster Response CMDR COE, based in Sofia, cosponsored a Training of Trainers (ToT) Workshop along with the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).  The event promoted the UNISDR’s latest Disaster Risk Reduction framework, which had been adopted in 2015. The Workshop was supported by the Directorate General Fire Safety and Civil Protection in Bulgaria and the Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Initiative for South Eastern Europe (DPPI SEE). More than 50 experts from 10 countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, FYROM, Georgia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia) and a number of international organizations and national institutions participated in the training. The focus was on the Sendai Framework and its applications to existing national plans. The UNISDR team sought to promote global best practices, practical examples and encouraged the sharing of experiences. Additionally, the participants of the workshop exercised globally accepted tools in drafting action plans for integrating Disaster Risk Reduction.

Dr Stodilka from the NATO Association of Canada chairing breakout Working Group

Within this workshop, as a delegate from the NATO Association of Canada, I had the experience of chairing two days of breakout syndicates that included both civilian and military personnel. We drafted national action plans for Disaster Risk Reduction, which included topics of relating to Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP). The broader workshop raised awareness of the latest developments related to Climate Change Adaptation — an undertaking of increasing significance for Arctic and Eastern European contexts. The format of this Training of Trainers Workshop has not been available to professionals in Canada.

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) was established in 1999 to facilitate the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR). UNISDR was mandated “to serve as the focal point in the United Nations system for the coordination of disaster reduction and to ensure synergies among the disaster reduction activities of the United Nations system and regional organizations and activities in socio-economic and humanitarian fields” (UN General Assembly Resolution 56/195). UNISDR promotes National, Regional and Global Platforms for Disaster Risk Reduction (UN General Assembly Resolution 61/198).

The Crisis Management and Disaster Response Centre of Excellence (CMDR COE), located in Sofia, Bulgaria, earned status in 2015 as the 21st NATO COE, as recommended by HQ Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT). The Centre’s aim is to pool expertise in order to improve interoperability, development and enhancement of NATO standards in building capacities for crisis management and disaster response; to provide assistance for the effective use of joint experience and capabilities of NATO, Nations, Partners and international organizations in the field of crisis management and disaster response; and to provide education and training of military personnel, government officials and civilians, and organizational structures in the field of crisis management and disaster response.

Photo: Crisis Management and Disaster Response CMDR COE


Disclaimer: Any views or opinions expressed in articles are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the NATO Association of Canada.

About Danielle Stodilka

Dr. Danielle Stodilka is an independent analyst on civil-military relations for Ukraine, and a materials scientist by profession. She has produced a documentary film that received recognition in leading academic institutions in the US, Canada and Australia, and continues to consult on security and ecologically sustainable programs for Ukrainian national institutions.

She received her BASc from the University of Toronto, MEng from McMaster University and both MSc and PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Florida. She is an active member of the NATO Association of Canada.