In April of 2009, the Nordic Ministers responsible for civil protection and preparedness met at Haga Palace in Stockholm to deliberate on how to strengthen their cooperation with the vision of deepening and broadening the Nordic cooperation within civil protection and preparedness.
The first ‘Haga’ declaration (Haga I) was adopted. Four years later, in 2013, the second ‘Haga’ declaration (Haga II) was adopted under Swedish chairmanship.
The declaration embraces a common vision: A robust North without borders. The vision aims for a society with decreasing vulnerability while strengthening the capability of handling serious accidents and crises and restoring functionality.
The Nordic Ministers responsible for civil protection and preparedness have adopted development goals for the ‘Haga’ cooperation 2019-2021.
The new and altered threat landscape has shown that the work on civil protection and preparedness cannot be considered solely from a national perspective; it also requires cross-border cooperation. The ability to help one another across borders in cases of serious incidents is of great importance. The ‘Haga’ cooperation is therefore more important than it has been for a long time in order to prevent and manage incidents together.
Climate change has led to more extreme natural hazards, including in the Nordic countries. The Nordic rescue services must cooperate on preparedness and in the preventive work against major natural hazards. The Nordic cooperation on forest fires, wildfires and CBRN, may be used as inspiration in global discussions.
The ‘Haga’ cooperation will focus on strengthening the capabilities within the following areas during the period 2019 - 2021:
The cooperation between the Nordic countries shall strengthen the region’s capacity to support the fight against major forest fires and wildfires in Northern Europe. Measures that lead to increased interoperability between countries when fighting fires on the ground and from the air are proposed. Resources shall be utilised cost-effectively and the capability of sharing resources between the Nordic countries shall be strengthened.
Complex CBRN incidents may have very serious consequences to society. CBRN incidents may require major resources and require cooperation and coordination between many stakeholders.
The Nordic cooperation serves to allocate resources for handling serious accidents, ensure access to expertise in the Nordic countries, and cooperate with different sectors. The purpose of the cooperation is to prevent, discover, and handle incidents related to chemical, biological, radioactive, and nuclear substances. Joint exercises should be a part of the work, preferably as part of the exercises within the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
Effective management and cooperation in case of an accident requires effective communication. Norway (Emergency Network), Sweden (Rakel), and Finland (Virve) are today interconnected, enabling effective communication and cooperation across national borders. It is being investigated how users of other Nordic Tetra systems - in Denmark (Sine) and Iceland – may also contribute to a robust and unlimited emergency situation and emergency calls.
The changed threat landscape is complex and difficult to handle. It is therefore important that questions regarding emergency preparedness and civil protection are discussed on an elevated policy level. Therefore, the Ministers also identified the following focus areas:
The Director Generals from MSB and their Nordic counterparts meet at least once a year to discuss priority areas of cooperation and topical issues.
The chairmanship of these meetings alternates between the Nordic countries. During 2020, Denmark holds the chairmanship.
On the first DG meeting of 2020 in Copenhagen in February, the meeting started with the consequences of climate change and its impact on the preparedness in the region and in Europe. The Nordic cooperation within rescEU was discussed with particular focus on CBRN, aerial forest fire and emergency medicine. The Director Generals also discussed the opportunities of a strengthened civil-military cooperation.
A joint declaration of intent, ‘København-erklæring’, on deepened cooperation was adopted and signed by all DGs.
The cooperation is considered a necessity due to the ongoing climate change and will focus especially on the handling of extreme weather events such as forest fires and wildfires as well as flooding.
In order to contribute to a more effective and structured exchange of information and cooperation between the Nordic countries within civil protection and preparedness, across the entire threat scale, MSB has prepared the report ‘Så bygger vi säkerhet i Norden’. The report presents 13 recommendations for building a safer Nordic region until 2025.
The Nordic countries shall work together for an increased Nordic participation in each respective country’s training programmes through a visit and exchange system. It is possible to apply for and participate in training in other Nordic countries as an observer via Hagagruppen Utbildning, led by Sweden.
Through the project Haga Train the Trainers (HTT) and financial support from Erasmus+, more trainers in the Nordic countries have learned how other Nordic countries operate.
The main purpose of the project Train the Trainers was to increase the skills of teachers and trainers in various areas within civil protection and preparedness. By learning from others, there are favourable conditions for development and spreading ideas.
Those teachers who have participated in other countries’ training programmes have reported and shared their experiences within their own organisation and inspired others to participate in similar exchanges.
A cooperation between each respective country’s heads of training has also developed within the group. The heads of training meet annually and discuss common development needs for their teachers and trainers. The group also discusses the development of training devices and educational challenges in the field.
In 2011, a seminar was given in Denmark. The purpose was to exchange thoughts and experiences to stimulate the development of the educational work and training in each respective country. During some time, Denmark had worked tirelessly on these issues and had many good ideas to share. At the seminar, the educational guidelines and training modules used within rescue services were among those presented.
In 2012, a seminar was given in Norway. The purpose was to exchange thoughts and experiences to stimulate the development of distance learning and e-learning in each respective country. Sweden shared their experiences with distance learning in basic training for firefighters, SMO. The Nordic countries also shared their own platforms for distance learning at the seminar.
In 2013, a seminar was given in Iceland. There, the work on e-learning continued; the work method’s obstacles and opportunities were discussed.
In 2014, a seminar was given in Finland. The theme was simulation. Different types of simulation facilities were visited, such as fire simulation buildings, and authentic dolls used for emergency care training were displayed.
In 2015, a seminar was given in Sweden. The theme was examinations, theoretical and practical, and how they are carried out today in various training programmes in the different countries. Visits were made to training grounds and other training facilities.
In 2016, two seminars were given. One seminar was given in Denmark, the theme was Effective learning, how we do it today and how we view the future within each respective country. Visits were made to training grounds and other training facilities.
The second seminar of 2016 was given in Norway. The theme was how to work with Lessons Learned. Lectures covered past events and training methods applied. Visits were made to training grounds and other training facilities.
In 2017 and 2018, the work was focused on developing a strategy for the continued work within the group. Focus has been on increasing the effect the heads of training have on future development.
In 2019 (spring), the strategy was adopted by each respective country and the project group can work on realising the strategy.
In October 2018, a seminar was held based on the report Så bygger vi säkerhet i Norden. The seminar focused especially on dependencies and cooperation within the areas Transport and Logistics, Energy Supply, Healthcare and Social Care, Rescue Services, and Food supply.
Almost 60 representatives of Swedish responsible authorities, a number of departments, and Swedish voluntary defence organisations attended the seminar. In addition, representatives of MSB’s counterparts in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Iceland participated, as well as the National Emergency Supply Agency in Finland.