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European climate disaster response lacks funds

Firefighters try to extinguish a burning field during a wildfire in Greece last year. The three reports urge the EU to scale up investment in climate resilience and examine funding gaps in its responses to natural disasters © Nick Paleologos/Bloomberg
Firefighters try to extinguish a burning field during a wildfire in Greece last year. The three reports urge the EU to scale up investment in climate resilience and examine funding gaps in its responses to natural disasters © Nick Paleologos/Bloomberg

The World Bank and the European Commission underline the need for focused and smart investments in climate adaptation and disaster prevention and preparedness

Europe needs to boost its resilience to natural disasters with “focused and smart investments”, say a set of reports published by the World Bank and the European Commission.

On May 15, the World Bank and the EU executive published three reports that call for the bloc to scale up its investment in climate resilience and examine funding gaps in its responses to natural disasters, in particular wildfires and droughts. The reports include statements from leading figures at the World Bank and the commission.

World Bank vice-president for Europe and central Asia Antonella Bassani notes that many EU countries have set ambitious climate targets that will require substantial investment, despite scarce financial resources.

“Focused and smart investments are needed in climate adaptation and disaster prevention and preparedness, accompanied by strengthening and adapting infrastructure, institutions, societies, and finance at different levels of government,” she writes.

Vital areas of Europe’s disaster and climate resilience approach, such as its provision of civil protection and response to emergencies, “remain highly exposed”, Bassani says.

“If public financing is severely affected — or even depleted — due to the impact of major catastrophic events, the government cannot provide timely emergency, recovery and reconstruction support to its populations and the economy,” she adds.

Janez Lenarčič, commissioner for crisis management at the commission, echoes Bassani’s call for investment in the EU’s disaster response, writing that “investments are needed at all levels, starting with critical sectors that provide emergency response services”.

“The needs are huge and the pressure on the EU and government budgets is high,” Lenarčič says. “We therefore need to invest in a smart way, prioritising the investments with the highest resilience ‘dividends’.”

You can access the three reports here.

A service from the Financial Times