Participants from the countries of Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, Poland, Spain, and the US met in Sofia, Bulgaria March 30 to discuss “Building Resiliency and Decreasing Vulnerability through Climate Change Adaptation.”
The participants, representing civil authorities, military, academia, and international organizations, engaged in active dialogue on how to address extreme weather events associated with climate change, such as the flooding in the Balkans and Southeast Europe that claimed over 70 lives in 2014.
This workshop was conducted by European Command in partnership with NATO’s newly accredited Center of Excellence for Crisis Management and Disaster Response (CMDR COE). This jointly sponsored workshop follows the initial seminar in 2013 on “Visualizing Implication of Climate Change on Military Activities and Relationships.”
Commodore Mihaylov, Director of the Operations and Training Directorate - Bulgarian MOD, formally opened the seminar in Triaditza Hall at Grand Hotel Sofia. The first day opened with an interactive exercise to define the commonly used terms “adaptation,” “resiliency,” and “vulnerability.” Participants found that several different concepts of the terms exist, and this emphasized that all stakeholders should have a common understanding of the challenge before an undertaking. The afternoon concluded with two guest speakers, including RADM Jonathan White, Director Task Force Climate Change, US Navy. RADM White gave a very thought-provoking presentation on existing and projected climate change impacts to military operations and preparedness.
The second day presented attendees with an interactive table-top exercise (TTX) of a regional flooding scenario. The participants were asked to make decisions based on inputs regarding meteorology, forecasts, hydrology, and economic and political activity. The TTX encouraged information-sharing and resulted in an increased understanding of roles, responsibilities and capabilities of flood response stakeholders.
The final day allowed participants to share their national efforts for flood response. Scientists from academic institutions shared some of their climate change research projects, and Germany and Spain both presented their military response structure in the case of flood response. These presentations highlighted the fact that no single model works best, and that each country needs to develop a flood response system that works within the confines of their national structure.
The workshop was very well received, with many participants giving suggestions and recommendations on topics for future cooperation in climate change and associated extreme weather.