On June 14, the Cabinet of Ministers took note of the information report prepared by the Ministry of the Interior on “Implementation of the Disaster Risk Management System”, which aims to improve and strengthen the disaster risk management system in Latvia, including strengthening the professional capabilities and infrastructure of the State Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).
Strengthening the disaster risk management system and adapting to climate change is one of the most important priorities not only for the development of Latvia, but also for the development of the whole of Europe. The European Union’s Green Deal envisages that Latvia, together with other European Union (EU) Member States, will become climate-neutral by 2050 in order to mitigate climate change and its impacts, improve the quality of life of the population and strengthen the competitiveness of the Latvian economy.
The EU Adaptation Strategy, published by the European Commission in 2021, emphasizes that extreme climate and weather events are becoming more frequent and severe. The number of natural disasters and the damage they cause has increased significantly over the last two decades. Adaptation and prevention measures are needed to promote climate resilience, thus reducing human, natural and material damage.
In accordance with the Civil Protection and Disaster Management Law and the National Civil Protection Plan, the SFRS is responsible for developing the Civil Protection Plan, including a description of key risks, disaster prevention, preparedness and response measures, and developing recommendations for disaster risk assessment. Consequently, the disaster risk management system directly depends on the professionalism and capacity of the SFRS.
For the development of the infrastructure of the interior sector, the construction of new disaster management centers in Kandava, Saulkrasti, Rūjiena, Aizpute, Priekule, Dagda, Ilūkste and Iecava is planned from the state budget. It is planned to place both the fire station and the structural units of the State Police and the Emergency Medical Service in one place in these centers. In turn, similar centers are planned to be built in Liepāja, Daugavpils, Madona, Alūksne, Līvāni, Salacgrīva, as well as in Tukums and Talsi or Vilāni and Alsunga, where not only the State Police and the Emergency Medical Service are planned to be located in one place, but also the structural units of the State Border Guard, the Health and Sports Center of the Ministry of the Interior, the Information Center, the State Agency for Security and the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs.
Significant funding for the development of the Disaster Risk Management System is also provided from EU funds, such as the European Regional Development Fund, the Internal Security Fund and the European Commission’s Civil Protection Financial Instrument. Funds will be directed to such SFRS priorities as modernization of specialized response vehicles and measures to address insufficient technical resources, construction of a training complex for the College of Fire and Civil Protection, establishment of mobile and stationary security classes for prevention activities, daily theoretical training of SFRS officials, creation of a new training ground, 112 platform, the modernization of the early warning system through the introduction of cell broadcasting technology, the creation of a disaster loss database, the introduction of a single fire safety and civil protection platform and the introduction of a fire and civil protection risk assessment tool.
Funding for the improvement of the disaster risk management system is provided from EU funds and the state budget.
The most significant risks caused by climate change in Latvia may be the following: seasonal changes, fires, multiplication of pests and pathogens, tree diseases, extinction of native species, spread of respiratory diseases, infectious diseases, heat stroke, precipitation-induced floods, wind power disturbances, increase in runoff, fluctuations in hydropower, reduction in frost, baldness, drying out, damage to infrastructure, reduction in water run-off during the summer season. In civil protection and disaster management planning, the risks posed by climate change may include forest and peat fires, as well as storms and sea winds; heavy rains and floods caused by them; floods caused by spring floods and ice congestion.
Ministry of the Interior
Photo: Ēriks Kukutis