A new project on increasing the international cooperation on disaster prevention and preparedness in the Baltic Sea Region, the Volunteers and Local Authorities – Baltic Sea Region Network (VOALA), has been launched in September 2022. The multi-partner project is led by the CBSS and funded by the Swedish Institute.
“Natural or man-made disasters do not stop at a line on a map and can affect several countries at once, as history has now shown us often enough,” said Vineta Polaside, Senior Adviser for Safe and Secure Region at the CBSS.
The pan-Baltic VOALA project will specifically address transboundary disasters in the Baltic Sea Region. Strengthening cross-sectoral cooperation between authorities and volunteer organisations that are dealing with crisis management in the Baltic Sea Region will notably contribute to establishing regional disaster preparedness and response ability. The VOALA project also aims to establish a Baltic Sea region network of volunteers and local authorities.
“To be successful in all stages of crisis management, we also need an active engagement of the stakeholders that are not specifically operating in the civil protection space, such as volunteer organisations,” said Polatside.
“Civil society engagement is crucial in disaster prevention activities,” she said, adding that the topics of public awareness, resource mobilization during emergencies, and the specific role of volunteers will be addressed by the VOALA project. Increasing the appeal of volunteering, especially among youth, will also play an important role in the project.
VOALA will have its kick-off meeting in Stockholm, Sweden on 26-27 October 2022. The CBSS is leading the project, partnering with the Finnish National Rescue Association (SPEK), the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), the State Fire and Rescue Service of Latvia, the Union of the Baltic Cities (UBC), the Ministry of the Interior of Finland, the Hamburg Fire and Rescue Service, and the Danish Civil Protection League.