OECD: Italy global model of resilience, efficiency in natural calamities management

10:31, May 05, 2010      

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Italy's national civil protection system is a global model in responding and efficiently tackling natural calamities and national emergencies, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said in a report on Tuesday.

The "Review of the Italian national civil protection system" risk assessment policies paper, the first of its kind regarding Italy, was presented at a conference at the government's headquarters by the OECD secretary-general Angel Gurra, Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the civil protection chief and undersecretary of state Guido Bertolaso.

Gurra praised the civil protection's rapid reaction and resilient risk management in dealing with all kinds of natural calamities including earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, landslides and volcanoes hitting the country. He indicated Italy as a model for other nations thanks to its groundbreaking approach in tackling such emergencies.

According to the peer-review, the merit of Italy's civil protection is that it "can rapidly and efficiently mobilize operational resources for emergency management and recovery both at home and in the rest of the world thanks to a coherent, multi- risk approach that integrates scientific research and technological expertise into a structured system."

Gurra mentioned the incredible rescue and reconstruction efforts carried-out after the terrible quake that hit L'Aquila in 2009, but also Italy's precious contribution to the aid scheme in other parts of the world severely hit by devastating earthquakes: China, Haiti and Chile.

Berlusconi happily welcomed the paper's results and thanked the OECD for conducting an excellent job in assessing the Italian civil protection.

"This review finally pays us credit, fills us with pride. For once we are judged positively for the good things we are able to do. At least something in Italy works," he added jokingly.

The premier stressed that following the "L'Aquila earthquake experience we have developed a special know-how that other countries lack and which we intend to put at their disposal through cooperation schemes."

The added-value of Italy's civil protection, its winning card, lies in the fact that its governance is directly under the authority of the Italian prime minister. The network is centralized but spreads like a spider-web, relying upon the cooperation of local authorities, armed forces, hospitals, and thousands of volunteers (a unique case in the world).

"In this system everyone plays a crucial part as one effective whole, and when a disaster strikes the multi-level collaboration allows to limit potential damages and save the highest number of human lives," noted Gurra.

He observed that considering the elevated natural risks facing Italy which were among the highest in the world (ranging from active volcanoes to frequent seismic activity), the Italian civil protection had given proof of being "a best practice, a model of professionalism and leadership".

Bertolaso, considered by most Italians (and people abroad) as the "hero" of the L'Aquila aftermath management, said that many countries, including the U.S., were already looking at the Italian model of risk management and coordination.

"The American government, following the environmental disaster in Louisiana, has understood the importance of centralizing the rescue and emergency activities under the direct control of the White House, just as here in Italy."

"This assessment paper honors the hard work we have done in these past 9 years, since our unit was created by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers," he added.

A video was broadcasted at the conference on the rebirth of L' Aquila, showing the achievements made by the Italian government in just one year time. For Bertolaso, L'Aquila had turned into the supreme symbol of the Italian rescue machine model.

The OECD assessment report highlighted that the rescue operation had made "Italy a case-study for policy-makers, emergency management practitioners, academics and international organizations who are searching for solutions in disaster damage reduction policies."

The premier pointed-out that "L'Aquila case stood as the symbol of an efficient and resilient Italy, where contrasts and hate are substituted by solidarity."

Berlusconi also welcomed several suggestions contained in the OECD paper for improving the civil protection system, including disaster prevention (curbing illegal building practices) and public risk communication (spreading greater awareness on the risks).

The OECD assessment paper was commissioned by the Italian government in 2008 to analyze its resilience to natural disasters. For one entire year OECD observers traveled across Italy interviewing officials, mayors, local authorities, police forces and civil protection and red cross volunteers. It's the first report of its kind reviewing the civil protection system of one singular country.

Source: Xinhua


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