The border area between Italy and Slovenia is exposed to natural risks such as floodings and earthquakes due to its geomorphological characteristics. These common risks have already spurred cooperation between the two countries in the past, but most of these cooperation projects only focused on one specific aspect of risk. The CROSSIT-SAFER project aims to reinforce cooperation at an institutional level for every kind of risk, in order to guarantee an efficient, coordinated and fast response of the civil protection actors of both jurisdictions in the case of a natural emergency with an immediate impact in the cross-border area. The CROSSIT-SAFER cooperation project is innovative as it groups together all risks with an immediate impact on the cooperation area, thus creating synergies between the civil protection and fire fighters in the regions and provinces of both countries. The project foresees several steps for its implementation:
- A state-of-the-art analysis of cooperation protocols to design cross-border versions between the regions involved. These protocols aim to provide complete coverage, supporting responses to all types of natural disasters in the area.
- The harmonisation of risk management procedures between the territories of the area, through prevention and preparedness, risk analysis and the sharing of scientific knowledge.
- Information activities for the population and training sessions for civil protection actors.
The project brings together 9 partners from different organisations with different competences and responsibilities such as universities, provinces, municipalities, and civil protection agencies, tobe able to face different issues. The partnership is composed of 4 Italian partners and 5 Slovenian partners. The lead partner is the Civil Protection of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region.
The project is part of the Interreg V-A Italia-Slovenia Cooperation Programme 2014-2020, with a contribution by the European Regional Development Fund of about €2,492,980. The project started in January 2019 and was supposed to end in December 2021, but due to the COVID-19 crisis, it was extended until August 2022.
The result of the project will be strengthened institutional cooperation capacity of public authorities in the field of disaster management, despite each having different internal structures, competences, and responsibilities.
So far, the project has resulted in a number of actions:
- a cooperation agreement between the civil protection structures of the Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions, signed in March 2022.
- Moreover, several exercise and training events have been carried out, involving both experts (from both countries?) and the broader population, including earthquake evacuations in schools, which turned out to be the most successful ones. The population welcomed these kinds of activities as they were designed with a real-life scenario in mind, focusing on small but frequent events such as the flooding of small rivers; and not as huge exercises for an event that might not happen in the lifetime of a person.
- The project carried out two studies, one on fire risk and one about wildfire risk. Moreover, CROSSIT-SAFER has conducted numerous training courses for firefighters, and on thematic issues such as, for instance, the safe use of chainsaws. Numerous small-scale and targeted practical training exercises have been designed for civil protection actors from both countries. The project has also created a film and a seminar on forest fires and interface risk.
Some of the project partners had the opportunity to present their work at the 8th International Fair of Defence, Protection, Security and Rescue. This event took place outside the project area, in Gornja Radgona, Slovenia, and helped to disseminate the importance of taking joint action to increase preparedness and responsiveness, as natural disasters do not stop at national borders.