International Cooperation in Emergency Management

I just read an article discussing some high-level meetings between the nations of Turkey and Azerbaijan in regard to emergency management.  While the article was short, it seemed to indicate hope in further discussions and cooperation between the two nations.  Admittedly, I didn’t know precisely where Azerbaijan is relative to Turkey so I looked up the region on Google Earth.  Interestingly enough, the two nations don’t border each other, being separated by the nations of Georgia to the north and Armenia to the south.  Kudos to them for meeting and learning from each other.  These types of relationships have to start somewhere, and it usually starts with understanding.

I continue to be interested in topics on international emergency management.  Even here in the US, despite the amount of cooperation that exists along our northern border with Canada, we aren’t as familiar as we should be with many of their practices in emergency management (for info on EM in Canada, visit this blogger’s website).  I’ve written in the past about some emergency preparedness practices in Cuba and programs and projects elsewhere around the globe, have visited emergency managers in Australia (who in recent news announced the Australian Emergency Management Institute will be shutting down physical operations due to budget issues – very unfortunate), worked a fair amount with our Canadian neighbors, met with a delegations from Israel and South Africa, and hope to visit emergency managers in other nations as I travel.  But that’s really not a lot… I want to learn more.

Unfortunately, many emergency management texts I’ve come across, either in professional or academic research, discuss ‘international emergency management’ in globalized terms.  They discuss USAID, the United Nations, the International Red Cross, and other large-scale efforts.  These are certainly important facilitators of global response and relief, but I’d like to know more about the programs of individual nations.  Where in government do their emergency management agencies reside?  Is it within the Ministry of the Interior, such as in Turkey, or does it fall within their military like many other nations?

What can we learn from other nations?  My previously mentioned post on Cuba cites quite a bit we can learn from them (isn’t it time to move past this diplomatic silliness we have with Cuba?).  It’s rather self-centered of us here in the United States to think that we do it best or that we can’t learn from others.  Many international conferences on emergency management are held in other nations (especially within the EU).  I wonder how well represented the US is at these conferences.The International Association of Emergency Managers is headquartered here in the US, but the IAEM conferences don’t see much of an international representation.  Certainly we have identified many best practices here in the US – things we should share with others – but we should also be open and willing to learn from others as well.

So much of our lives is global in nature.  We have a global economy.  My Toyota pick up truck, sold in the US, was made in Mexico.  Our cultures, foods, and customs have blended.  We track health epidemics globally because we know how quickly they can spread.  Many people are bi- and tri- lingual – often by necessity of business or family.  And certainly we recognize the global impact of disasters where no one is immune to their impacts.  While I’m not involved in international emergency management efforts, it seems, from an outsider’s perspective, that few people are.  Let’s learn more from each other.  We’ll all be better for it.

Tim Riecker


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