Unfortunately, this year has been a game changer in terms of risk prediction as the scale and impact of recent disasters has been unprecedented, Dr. George Boustras, Professor of Risk Assessment at the European University Cyprus, Director of CERIDES and Special Advisor to the President of the Republic of Cyprus on Crisis Management and Civil Protection has said.
Speaking at the Economist conference entitled: “Protecting Lives - Building Resilience”, which is being held in Thessaloniki, Professor Boustras added that although there are both national and local risk assessments for various potential threats, the magnitude and impact of disasters this year have been unprecedented. It is therefore “time to step back, study the events and assess whether prevention systems, disaster management practices and review post-event management”, he explained.
We need to re-evaluate our decision-making processes based on the fact that incidents that were considered unlikely to happen - in the past - are now much more likely to happen, Professor Boustras pointed out indicating at the same time that on a European level we need to further strengthen #rescEU and identify highly focused technological developments that should be funded.
He also suggested that disasters are slowly but surely becoming a new breeding ground for the development and adoption of fake news, sometimes as part of a wider hybrid threat. At the societal level, we must - as a priority - educate our communities, and define, and redefine risk communication strategies, he urged.
Hans Das: We are breaking records
Also speaking at the Economist Summit Hans Das, Director of Emergency Management at the European Commission, underlined that "this summer many records in natural disasters have been broken", explaining that this was something “that had never happened before”.
“This year we have had heat waves, fires, floods affecting European countries almost at the same time,” he noted, adding that “the total amount of land burnt is 40% higher than the average amount of land burnt in recent years.” He also spoke of an exponential increase in fires, pointing out that August saw the largest EU fire ever recorded by the European Forest Fire Information Service in Evros and Alexandroupoli which burned more than 96,000 hectares, an area equivalent to the area of Paris and Berlin or a third of Luxembourg. He said that another record that was broken was that this year the largest rescue teams were sent in, together with a very high number of helicopters and aircraft.