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Press Release

Government of Sweden
07/ 05/ 2009

Government of SwedenThe Government of Sweden – notably through the Swedish Rescue Services Agency (SRSA), now integrated into the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), together with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), which has been funding most of SRSA's deployments – has been one of the most prominent actors in efforts to prepare for, and respond to, environmental emergencies around the world.

The Government of Sweden – notably through the Swedish Rescue Services Agency (SRSA), now integrated into the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), together with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), which has been funding most of SRSA's deployments – has been one of the most prominent actors in efforts to prepare for, and respond to, environmental emergencies around the world.

In June 2007, Sweden hosted the seventh meeting of the international Advisory Group on Environmental Emergencies (AGEE 7), a global forum held every two years, bringing together key stakeholders – government representatives, environmental experts and disaster managers – from around the world to share information, expertise and lessons learned to improve prevention, preparedness, and response to environmental emergencies. AGEE 7 gave birth to the Rosersberg Initiative, named after the location of the meeting place in Sweden. The Initiative, aimed at strengthening international preparedness and response to environmental emergencies, consists of three Thematic Areas, namely, TA1: Advocacy and Capacity-Building; TA2: Strengthening International Governance Systems; and TA3: Operational Aspects of Providing and Receiving Assistance.

Sweden, through the SRSA, played an important role in designing and participating in the pilot Environmental Emergencies Training (EET) held in August 2008 in the Netherlands. A comprehensive curriculum - covering a wide range of issues such as the UN response system to natural disasters, environmental emergencies, personal mission preparedness, information management, stress management, and cultural awareness - was developed to ensure participants of the training would be mission-ready. Based on feedback received from course participants, the curriculum and methodology are being reviewed by the Steering Committee, of which Sweden is a key member, in order to determine the most appropriate means of rolling out a generic EET. This will contribute greatly to the overall objective of strengthening the international environmental emergency response system, as well as enhancing the resilience of vulnerable countries.

Sweden has also worked closely with the Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit on the design and implementation of the NATO "Partnership for Peace" course on Environmental Disaster Operations. NATO's "Partnership for Peace" is a program of practical bilateral cooperation between individual partner countries and NATO. It allows partner countries to build up an individual relationship with NATO, choosing their own priorities for cooperation.

Sweden has frequently contributed expertise in response to environmental emergencies. For this purpose, a roster has been established with stand-by associate experts. Some of the more recent missions have included: deployment of experts through the UNDAC mission in response to Hurricane Dean in Jamaica in August 2007; Rapid Environmental Assessment in response to Hurricane Felix in Honduras in September 2007, in response to Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar May 2008, and in response to a capsized ferry containing toxic cargo that occurred in July 2008 in the Philippines. In November 2008, Swedish expertise addressed disaster waste management issues following Tropical Storm Hanna and Hurricane Ike on the Turks and Caicos Islands, and in February 2009 provided geohazards risk assessments following heavy rains in September/October 2008 in Honduras.

Sweden was also a key supporter of the September 2008 Triplex exercise on the border between Norway and Sweden. A major component of the exercise was international cooperation and coordination in the response to environmental emergencies, as part of a large scale natural disaster.

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