A redesigned training on environment and emergencies targeting first responders concluded this week in Slovenia. The training was jointly organized by the United Nations, the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and the Slovenian Administration for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief, with financial support of ECHO. The UN Environment / Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Joint Unit acted as main facilitator during the course.

During the six-day training, the 23 participants gained the necessary knowledge and skills to deploy as environmental experts on disaster response missions. The training brought together professionals from the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism participating states, the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) mechanism as well as Joint Unit response partners. At the end of the training, 91 percent of the participants expressed themselves ready for an environmental emergency deployment, with 30 percent giving a maximum score on mission readiness.

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Participants strongly appreciated the training sessions, which covered topics ranging from the role of an environmental expert during the first phases of an emergency, disaster waste management and the Flash Environmental Assessment Tool to communication and remote sensing. All participants highlighted that they would recommend the training. Furthermore, 65 percent of the participants scored the quality of the presentations with the maximum rate, while 35 percent evaluated the presentations of good quality. All participants concluded three online trainings available on the Environmental Emergencies Centre prior to the course. The training also included a 1.5 day simulation exercise facilitated by Slovenia, which recreated challenges encountered by environmental experts during emergencies. The simulation included practical work at a herbicide plant, a petroleum storage tank site, an agricultural chemical production site, temporary waste sites and an emergency camp site.

This training is the first out of four trainings supported by ECHO and held in Slovenia. The next one will be held in September or October 2018.

Civil protection and humanitarian aid operations have been my job for the last 20 years. After this training, I feel better prepared and fired up to be deployed as an Environmental Expert!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       (Participant, final course evaluation)