11th Baltic Excellence Programme highlights children and youth participation in DRR, energy, early warning systems and dumped munitions

Around 30 civil protection specialists from nine countries of the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) gathered in Hamburg on 1-2 March 2023 for the 11th Baltic Excellence Programme (BEP). 

Hosted by the Hamburg Fire and Rescue Service as part of the German Chairmanship of the CBSS Civil Protection Network, the event focused on children and youth participation in disaster risk reduction, energy security, early warning systems, and dumped munitions. 

The BEP was opened by Marko Florek, Chief Fire Officer at the Hamburg Fire and Rescue Service, Amb. Grzegorz Poznański, Director General of the CBSS Secretariat and Dr Florian Rudolph, Chair of the CBSS Committee of Senior Officials, Federal Foreign Office of Germany.  

“We see from the current events – global crises and the growing urgency of containing risks of climate change, that there is a great need, even bigger than ever, for close regional cooperation within civil protection. Crises bring new challenges, but they also offer the opportunity to share and strengthen similar values and build knowledge about common risks and how to address them together as a united front and with a renewed commitment, 

Grzegorz Poznański, Director General of the CBSS 

On the first day, participants learned about youth participation examples in the BSR, introduced by Franziska Seufert from the CBSS and Taina Hankikoski from the Finnish Nation Rescue Association. Barbara Voors from Safe the Children Sweden and Olivia Lind Haldorsson from the CBSS presented strategies for organising meaningful children and youth participation in civil security.  

“At least as important as the political level envisioning something to happen, is the fact that young people want – if not demand – to be involved and are ready to participate. This is not limited to a certain field but across disciplines, including civil security.” 

Franziska Seufert, CBSS Project Coordinator for Safe and Secure

During the second block, participants discussed energy security and independence, sharing examples from their own countries. What do countries and their citizens do in case of a blackout? How does the status of energy independence look like? What can citizens do to save energy?

The first day was concluded with a study visit on Hamburg’s flood protection measures and early warning system. Jürgen Krempin from Hamburg Fire and Rescue Service showed how Hamburg is actually protected and explained how the population is informed about the risks of flooding because only informed people can take measures for their own protection.

The second day of the BEP focused on early warning systems in the countries of the BSR, various channels and tools for warning and informing the population and challenges faced by participating countries.  

The last block of the event addressed the issue of dumped munitions, including how to locate and handle unexploded ordnance from WWII, what the situation is with dumped munition in the Baltic Sea, the state of the ammunition, risks, environmental impact and recent developments. 

Since 2012, each Presidency of the CBSS has organised a BEP, and during these last 11 years, more than 150 experts holding key leadership positions in civil protection and law enforcement from all CBSS Member States have been trained. Each BEP is a building stone in our efforts to create a common societal security culture in the Baltic Sea Region.