On 19 October 2015, local and regional coastal implementing agencies met in Bologna (Italy) on invitation of the FP-7 project RISC-KIT and the Geological Service of the Emilia-Romagna Region for the first Italian RISC-KIT Stakeholder's Day. Participants discussed the state of the art of coastal protection and the improvement of prevention, mitigation, and preparedness measures against coastal storms, erosion, and flash floods in the region. During the consultation Dr. Grit Martinez from Ecologic Institute presented the outcomes of a socio-political-cultural and ecological analysis. The analysis highlighted factors essential to the improvement and implementation of disaster risk reduction measures in the strategically important touristic region Emilia Romagna.
The consultation with affected groups, scientists and NGO representatives was held at the initiative of the project partners from the FP7-project RISC-KIT Prof. Paolo Ciavola, Dr. Clara Armaroli and Enrico Duo from the University of Ferrara in close collaboration with Luisa Perini of the Geological Service of the Emilia-Romagna Region.
The focus of the project research was the northern Italian UNESCO World Heritage site Comacchio municipality – locally known as little Venice - with its coastal site Porto Garibaldi. The territory is extremely low-lying and composed of lagoons, wetlands and canals. These are all highly exposed to risk due to the significant increase of critical storm surges in the region.
The historical-political development in Italy after World War II led to increased human pressures on the coast which exacerbated natural phenomena such as subsidence, beach erosion and flooding during storms. Today a clear endangerment of the human settlements and economic activities in the region are the result of these activities. In her presentation Dr. Grit Martinez made reference to these observed and documented changes in the coastal ecosystem relating them to administrative cultures and practices in Italy. Moreover, important measures for disaster risk reduction for the region were identified with implementing agencies and the wider civil society and presented to the participants during the consultation Dr. Martinez' presentation was based on empirical findings from the RISC-KIT project which has included narrative- and ethnographic analysis, cross-national comparison and background research. Her presentation was followed by a extensive discussion amongst the audience which addressed communication amongst mid and toplevel decision making agencies as a main issue of concern in order to improve disaster risk reduction in the region as recently demonstrated during the storm surge event on 5 February 2015.
Under the auspices of the Ecologic Institutes a web-based management guide for disaster risk reduction measures will be developed for European coasts. The guide will be made publically available at the website of the RISC-KIT project.