Romania is prone to a range of natural hazards, including earthquakes, floods, droughts, and extreme weather events, which pose a considerable threat to Romania’s poverty alleviation efforts and its sustainable economic growth. In response to these challenges, the Romanian government has made substantial investments in enhancing its emergency and disaster response capabilities, displaying a strong commitment to bolstering disaster risk management (DRM).
To further strengthen Romania’s emergency response infrastructure and its institutional capacities, the World Bank, with support from GFDRR, has helped the government put in place a systematic process to reduce the vulnerability of public buildings that are critical for disaster response and recovery. About 35 public buildings have been identified at high risk of partial or complete collapse during a potential earthquake and need of structural retrofitting, functional upgrading, and energy efficiency investments.
This two-day workshop from September 13 to 15, 2023 drew from Romania's experience in enhancing its critical emergency management infrastructure and provided a platform for experts, practitioners, and key stakeholders to exchange knowledge and experiences in the DRM. It welcomed delegations from Armenia, Croatia, Georgia, Moldova, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, along with representatives from Romania as the host country. Throughout the event, participants engaged in discussions, interactive activities, and field visits.
The first day combined informative sessions with practical experiences in the field, offering participants a holistic understanding of emergency response and resilience efforts in Romania. The day began with insightful opening remarks by Dr. Raed Arafat, State Secretary at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Romania, and a discourse about the evolution of Romania’s emergency response system. An overview of the World Bank's engagement in the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region then set the context of this knowledge exchange, gathering delegations from different countries, including Armenia, Croatia, Georgia, Moldova, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
The highlight of the day was a field visit where participants had the opportunity to witness real-world applications of disaster preparedness and response strategies in action. By visiting the National Center for Training Improvement in Emergency Management and the newly built fire station in the town of Mizil, participants gained firsthand insights into the challenges, lessons learned, and good-case practices of Romanian emergency response teams.
The experiences shared on the first day served as a strong foundation for the in-depth exploration and strategic discussion that followed on Day 2. The morning session focused on various technical assistance instruments available to countries in the ECA region, with presentations held by development partners such as the EU' Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, and the World Bank.
A walking tour then explored the state and resilience issues of public and private buildings in downtown Bucharest. The afternoon segment extended these practical experiences through additional field visits. Participants had the opportunity to explore the Obor fire station, which is currently under construction, and engage with an exhibition featuring equipment and vehicles at the local Inspectorate for Emergency Situations (ISUBIF), to learn about the challenges and lessons learned on matters related to procurement, feasibility, design, and construction.
This event has been a testament to the importance of collaboration and knowledge sharing in the critical field of DRM. The valuable insights, challenges, and solutions discussed throughout this workshop will serve as catalysts, inspiring and reinforcing the commitment of participating countries to enhance and extend their endeavors in building disaster and climate resilience. Indeed, as the event concluded, international delegates expressed their keen interest in carrying forward these dialogues within their respective countries, translating the wealth of knowledge into tangible, impactful actions on the ground.
Kristina Martinovic - Head of the Department for Safety and Prevention, City of Zagreb
Armine Hayrapetyan - Acting Rector of the Crisis Management State Academy, Armenia
Levan Piolia - Head of the State Procurement Division of Emergency Management Service, Georgia