27.11.2017 - UNESCO Venice Office

Sava River Basin countries first to test innovative flood risk reduction technology in South-East Europe

© I-REACT Infographics

In 2014, the Sava River flooded dramatically killing 79 individuals, affecting 2.6 million people and causing 3.8 million euros in damages and losses across the basin. To learn from such an experience and improve future response to floods, UNESCO through its Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe and the International Sava River basin Commission have scheduled a simulation workshop on 5-7 December 2017 in Zagreb, Croatia, to foster a more fluid dialogue between riparian specialists and civil protection agencies.

UNESCO stands in solidarity with all the people affected by disasters worldwide. It operates at the interface between natural and social sciences, education, culture and communication playing a vital role in constructing a global culture of resilient communities. It assists countries in building capacity to prevent disasters and manage climate risks and ability to cope with natural hazards. UNESCO provides a forum for intergovernmental cooperation as well as essential scientific and practical advice in disaster risk reduction.

In 2015, at the UN World Conference in Japan, representatives from 187 UN Member States adopted a new global framework, the “Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030”. It opened a major new chapter in sustainable development as it outlined clear targets and priorities for action towards a substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health. UNESCO is committed to operating in line with it and, in addition to the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2015 Paris Agreement, to promoting a culture of safety and resilience.

Within this scope, UNESCO Regional Bureau, in collaboration with the International Sava River basin Commission (ISRBC), with the technical support of Deltares, the Royal Haskoning DHV from The Netherlands, the CIMA Research Foundation and  the Instituto Superiore Mario Boella (ISMB) from Italy, will hold a transboundary training workshop on “Governance and technology for flood risk reduction: Linking early warning to emergency management in the Sava River basin”.

The Sava River Basin (97,700 km2) is shared by 5 countries: Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia. By bringing together emergency responders, professional volunteers and flood forecasting operators from the Sava River basin, along with representatives from the Drin River basin, the Zagreb training workshop  aims  to enhance intra-regional cooperation by improving a transboundary coordination in flood risk preparedness and response.

The workshop will perform a collective and participatory gap analysis in the current system putting in line early warning alerts triggered by the responsible national hydro-meteorological services and/or water agencies as flood forecasting operators, with monitoring, response and flood-protection actions performed by the civil protection sector in simulated floods scenario. In other words, it will test the overall capacity of the stakeholders to achieve an effective flood risk reduction for the national to the transboundary level.

Benefits derived from the use of integrated and innovative systems will be explored, starting from the possibility to interface modular solutions of the European Union's Horizon 2020 project I-REACT, in particular geolocalised crowdsourcing-social media services combined with the Sava-FFWS System for flood forecasting and warning. Hydro-meteorological and water agency units as well as departments’ representatives will be called along with civil protection authorities and professional volunteers to work back-to-back and to collaborate on specific case study applied TO in-field drills.

In particular, a well-tailored demonstration, carried out with the contribution of the Civil Protection of Croatia, and the technical partners involved will highlight that that major benefits and enhanced capacity of member states are possible for Sava riparian countries, and most likely the Drin river basin in managing  floods-related Disaster.

The key for it is the interoperationalisation of integrated forecasting service, such as Sava FFWS, with innovative cyber technologies, such those proposed by I-REACT, case in point real time and geo-localised crowdsourcing functions for a more accurate situational awareness and response in flood related emergencies.

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I-REACT (Improving Resilience to Emergencies through Advanced Cyber Technologies) is a 3-year project (2016-2018) funded by the European Union Horizon 2020 programme and led by ISMB. It aims to use social media, smartphones, and wearables to improve natural disaster management.

The development of Sava-FFWS, Flood Forecasting and Warning System in the Sava River Basin, started in June 2016 as a component of the project “Improvement of joint actions in flood management in the Sava River Basin”, funded by the Western Balkans Investment Framework and implemented by the World Bank with the institutional support of the ISRBC and the technical contribution of Deltares and the Royal Haskoning DHV from The Netherlands. The system will become fully operational in fall 2018.

Website : http://www.i-react.eu/

 




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