EU Civil Protection Knowledge Network

The EU Civil Protection Knowledge Network is based on two main Pillars: Capacity Building Pillar and Science Pillar.

Esercitazione internazionale MODEX SICILY 2019

The Resolution No. 420 of March 13, 2019 adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union identifies the objective of further enhancing the disaster prevention, preparedness and response capacity of the member states of the Union Mechanism for Civil Protection - UCPM.

The new framework highlights the importance of a common environment for the exchange of information, know - how - in terms of skills and competencies - and for the sharing of training appointments as a key element of the Union Mechanism to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of disaster prevention and response systems.

With this objective, Decision (EU) 2019/420 establishes the EU Civil Protection Knowledge Network.

"The Commission shall establish a network of actors and institutions involved in civil protection and disaster management, including centers of excellence, universities and researchers, which together with the Commission will form a civil protection knowledge network. The Commission shall take due account of expertise available in the Member States and organizations active in the field."(art.8 )

This is a civil protection knowledge network established on the basis of a multi-risk approach, with the aim of collecting, developing and disseminating constantly updated information, involving civil protection and disaster management actors, centers of excellence, universities and researchers.

The EU Civil Protection Knowledge Network is based on two main Pillars: Capacity Building Pillar and Science Pillar.

The Pillars are the forums where activities are initiated, planned, designed and implemented with the overall purpose of contributing to the network's objectives.

"The capacity development pillar aims to bring together, promote and strengthen capacity building initiatives relevant to civil protection and disaster management stakeholders, paying special attention to the Union Mechanism." (Article 10)

Pillar 1 aims to promote and pool capacity building initiatives for individual and collective disaster prevention and management.

The activities focus on strengthening, through a continuous and integrated process, existing Union Civil Protection Mechanism projects and programs dedicated to: training, Union Mechanism exercises, exchange of experts, and preparedness and prevention activities.

Rapid and effective response to the occurrence of a disaster involves the "preparedness" of operators, equipment, facilities, communities and organizations, resulting in the reduction or mitigation of its effects.

In light of the increasing natural and man-made disasters that threaten the safety of people, the environment, and the cultural heritage of European territories, prevention and risk management are key to addressing and managing disaster events through preparedness, response capacity, and resilience of infrastructure, ecosystems (terrestrial and aquatic), and society.  

With the aim of promoting disaster risk awareness, the European Commission periodically publishes the "Overview of natural and man-made disaster risks the European Union may face" to examine trends in the changing risk landscape. The document is based on assessments by Union Mechanism member states and participating countries, and on data related to the cross-sectoral policy promoted by the Commission.

Other tools for improving disaster risk management are the promotion of an economy dedicated to disaster prevention and preparedness-the basis for planning and decision-making processes-and the disciplined management of funding schemes. Good financial support is provided by the European Regional Development Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the Common Agricultural Policy and the Digital Europe program.

The sharing of best practices for risk management is also possible through the Peer Review Program, which enables independent analysis by a team of experts (the "peers") selected from different UCPM countries.

Within the context of international cooperation there is the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, which enshrines the shift from "disaster management," to "disaster risk management," through the prominent role accorded to prevention activities. The Sendai Framework responds to the need to define a common strategy aimed at coping with the many disasters with increasing levels of intensity and frequency.  

"The Science Pillar aims to bring together academia, practitioners and decision-makers in multidisciplinary, cross-sectoral and cross-border cooperation in order to apply scientific knowledge to disaster risk management and, in particular, prevention and preparedness activities more efficiently." (Article 9)

This is a new space for the scientific community and operational stakeholders in disaster management, with the aim to evolve into a truly open community for sharing and developing available know-how.

The scientific activities of the Knowledge Network draw on and integrate existing scientific structures and networks in support of the Union Mechanism under the leadership of the Disaster Risk Management Knowledge Center, DRMKC-the European Commission's science and knowledge service.

The Knowledge Center engages in ongoing analysis of existing and developing multidisciplinary knowledge assets to support all phases of disaster risk management and to identify and fill possible gaps, including through risk analysis and mapping, expert assessments, and recommendations.

With the increase in the flow of knowledge, the need for systematic reviews grows as well, and also knowledge gaps can be addressed through the use of:

  • the Gaps Explorer Project to provide targeted recommendations, and jointly developed by the Commission's Department for Research and Innovation and its Joint Research Center, with a focus on forest fires;
  • the multi-hazard and multidisciplinary reports by the DRMKC to analyze and update the state of the art;
  • the joint DRMKC-CONRIS Webinars - Cooperation Network for Risk, Safety & Security Studies;
  • the National Risk Assessment Recommendations for EU Disaster Risk Management Every three years, Union Mechanism member states are invited to provide the Commission with a summary of national assessments, with the support of the DRMKC, which facilitates the convergence of risk assessment methodologies.

For evidence-based decision-making, on the other hand, the collaboration between industry and the scientific community aimed at developing innovative methods, tools, and technological solutions for disaster mitigation (adaptation and prevention) and impact (preparedness and response) plays an essential role.

Innovative data and analytical tools facilitate decision-making:

  • Risk Data Hub (RDH) the GIS web platform that collects data from the European territory instrumental in disaster risk assessment, both for the pre-event and post-event phase, through the use of the risk analysis module to collect data to perform multi-hazard analysis, and for the different components of risk: hazard, exposure and vulnerability.
  • INFORM Risk developed in 2014 as the first open source tool for measuring humanitarian crisis risk is the result of a global initiative by the United Nations, the European Union and other civil society organizations from the humanitarian and development sectors.
  • Epidemic Intelligence from Open Sources (EIOS) brings together public health stakeholders from around the world to create a shared, multidisciplinary approach to early detection, assessment and risk communication using publicly available information.

Led by the World Health Organization-WHO, EIOS follows the One Health, All Hazards principle whereby human, animal and environmental health are closely interrelated.

The Global Conflict Risk Index (GCRI) expresses the statistical risk of violent conflict in a given country over the next 1-4 years. The values given by the Global Index are instrumental to the EU's Conflict Early Warning Framework which identifies countries at high risk of conflict, and those where the situation escalates significantly.


the training and refresher plan is developed in stages, from the basic level to sessions dedicated to future mission leaders, and sets the goal of improving operators' skills for disaster coordination and assessment activities.

Specialized courses: to qualify teams on specific aspects of missions, such as security and sustainability assessment

Ad-hoc training: to meet emerging needs, e.g., to support on-site integration of relief teams, an additional professional development opportunity for experts.


Civil protection exercises are learning opportunities for all actors involved. They test and enhance disaster prevention, preparedness, and response activities, improve preparedness and collaboration among European civil protection experts and professionals.

This is the case with the two types of EU MODEX exercises:

  • table top: based on a simulated scenario, the exercise focuses on strategic decision making and managerial preparedness for possible international deployment (coordination, procedures, reporting and communication arrangements)
  • on field: the exercise focuses on the operational aspects of the international deployment phases of teams: mobilization/arrival, operations and demobilization.
  • Large-scale exercises to improve response to all types of disasters within or outside UCPM member states, providing a testing environment and learning opportunity for all actors involved in civil protection assistance interventions.
  • To expand the offering, the Knowledge Network is introducing new types of exercises:
  • plug-in exercises: the exercise tests the actual deployment of European teams outside EU countries, in a different emergency environment in terms of facilities, culture and weather conditions. The plug - in exercises give the opportunity to link with planned large-scale exercises, which contemplate a multi-organization response.
  • host nation support table-top exercises: the exercise focuses on the challenges encountered by a country affected by a disaster event in receiving, integrating and coordinating international assistance in response operations.
  • Exercise scenarios can be based on flood, forest fire, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) risk, seismic events and health emergencies.

Other sharing tools:

  • Expert Exchange Program: to promote the exchange of civil protection experts in another member state or state participating in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The objective is to share experiences and gain in-depth technical expertise.
  • Lessons learned program: to integrate lessons learned, best practices, and the latest innovative solutions for the preparedness process, with the goal of ensuring rapid deployment of forces in the field.
  • Scientific advice and innovation: to support the transfer of research and innovation into planning activities and operations in civil defense and disaster management. Objective, to provide the Union Mechanism with specific expertise.
  • Opportunities to foster partnerships: to fund initiatives that bring the civil protection and disaster management community closer together and promote collaboration.
  • Thematic workshops and conferences: to promote learning and updating appointments organized for specific existing or emerging hazards.
  • Community engagement: to promote regular dialogue of EUCPM member states and participants with other stakeholders, on all aspects of the Knowledge Network.