On 17 March 2021, the CBSS Civil Protection Network (CPN) Senior Experts Meeting was organised and led by Lithuania, the current CBSS Presidency country and chair of the Civil Protection Network. The theme of the meeting was ‘Covid-19 outbreak: challenges for civil protection and lessons learned’. Welcoming words by the Director of the Lithuanian Fire and Rescue Service, Mr. Saulius Greičius, reflected on the fact that the pandemic affects all different sectors in our society and everyone personally. Thus, he stressed the need for communication and exchange of experiences: “This meeting will be a good opportunity to exchange our views, our experiences and lessons learned.”
The Director General of the CBSS Secretariat, Ambassador Grzegorz Poznański, gave an opening address in which he highlighted the need for cooperation in the region and stressed that the current situation with the pandemic has proven the demand for common responses to future crises: “I hope that today’s meeting will prove, once again, that exchange of information and networking is not only informative – but may result in the possibilities for further action, not only by meetings but by common action.”
After the high-level interventions, the meeting continued with a round-table format, in which all Member States of the CBSS Civil Protection Network were able to discuss the ongoing pandemic from the civil protection perspective.
The participants shared experiences regarding the initial response to the pandemic; information on organisational and administrative structures; communication to the public; the importance of maintaining critical infrastructures as well as learning how to continue carrying out civil protection tasks during a prolonged pandemic.
When discussing lessons learned, many of the participants agreed that the pandemic has highlighted the need for increased cooperation – both between different national agencies and between the public and private sector – as well as between neighbouring countries. Other lessons include the need for better preparation, including pre-described measures and directives, as well as the need for extra measures for building a more robust and resilient society.
The next activity within the CBSS Civil Protection Network is the CBSS Civil Protection Network Directors General Meeting that will take place on 2 June 2021.