Exclusive: interview of Ioannis Gkikas, the Mayor of Egaleo

27 July 2023 by

C2IMPRESS: an introduction

The Co-Creative Improved Understanding and Awareness of Multi-Hazard Risks for Disaster Resilient Society (C2IMPRESS) collaboratively carried by sixteen partners from different backgrounds, aims at improving the understanding and awareness of natural disasters (mainly floods, heatwaves, forest fires, landslides and earthquakes) and the multidimensional impacts they generate on a given territory

With a converging driving force like climate change - bringing along more extreme weather events (e.g., cyclones, floods, heatwaves, droughts and wildfires) and the rise in sea-level, continued urbanisation and development in hazardous areas have been putting more people and their wealth in danger in Europe. In addition, insufficient disaster risk management and governance function across related cross-cutting areas like environmental management, urban and regional development, climate change and adaptation also affect the related vulnerability, risk and resilience of people, communities and places.

To address the aforementioned challenges, the C2IMPRESS project aims to offer an ensemble of innovative revolutionary (albeit mature) models, methods, frameworks, tools and technologies that are holistic and robust enough to provide better prediction with lower uncertainty on risks of single or multiple hazards stemming from extreme weather events under different climate change scenarios.

In conversation with the Mayor of Egaleo:

C2IMPRESS dissemination and Communication Manager, Dr Tamanna Khan, had the opportunity to have a conversation with Mr Ioannis Gkikas, Mayor of the Municipality of Egaleo, Greece, regarding the C2IMPRESS project and his thoughts on the collaboration.

The Municipality of Egaleo is the first pilot site to test the innovative solutions of the C2IMPRESS project, on an experimental basis. The case study concerns the estimation of the hazards inside the administrative limits of the municipality. The main hazards are: Heat waves, wildfires, floods & earthquakes. Based on the results in this city, the tools and solutions will be refined for application in the other pilot sites. 

Dr Tamanna Khan: How effective do you think a project like C2IMPRESS is for the disaster affected people of Egaleo? 

Ioannis Gkikas: Like in any part of the world, the city and people of Egaleo are affected by the natural hazards and crises. In Greece, the Ministry of Civil Protection and also the Municipalities, these two government bodies collaborate to manage such crises. However, when we have a well-thought holistic approach like the C2IMPRESS Project, with all the state-of-the-art tools and methodologies, the crisis management would be more organised and effective.

Figure: C2IMPRESS Concept

The C2IMPRESS project embraces a novel co-design and co-creation approach for socio-technical innovations, knowledge production and validation to empower citizens and society with climate actions taking future resilience in multi-hazard crisis into consideration, as well as focusing on inducing an evolution towards new forms of governance to increase the participation of all actors in decision-making for a sustainable transition to a just risk resilient society.

The approach includes co-designing of tools and apps to assess, monitor and observe different hazards, related risks, exposure and vulnerability at case study areas (CSAs) and a robust but flexible and modular decision support platform where all innovative microservices planned in this project will be embedded. Both tools will benefit from breakthrough innovation in interoperability tools and Knowledge Graphs for multi-domain synchronisation of big data from C2IMPRESS project and legacy data services.

Dr Tamanna Khan: How do you think the co-creation and co-design concept that the C2IMPRESS project is bringing will increase the cross community and cross-country collaboration?

Ioannis Gkikas: The collaboration we have with Turkey, Portugal and Spain, is very important. Co-creation and co-design involve bringing stakeholders from diverse communities and countries in the development process. Throughout this process, their expertise, perspectives, and jointly developing solutions, the project has the potential to generate positive impacts that extend far beyond its immediate scope.
This knowledge sharing, therefore, contributes to mutual capacity building, where participants can learn from each other's expertise, best practices, and lessons learned. 

Dr Tamanna Khan: As we know, C2IMPRESS is a 3-year project, and after it’s over, what would be your plan to sustain such a collaboration plan?

Ioannis Gkikas: The support from the European Union (EU) gave us this opportunity to collaborate and implement this project. This is definitely going to be an opportunity for all the partners and pilot sites to be stronger in terms of natural hazard and crisis management. From the outcomes of this project, we will get a whole view of the crisis and hazards of the pilot sites, which will in the long run assist us in thinking of more effective solutions throughout Europe.

Dr Tamanna Khan: What would be your advice in order to maximise the impact of the C2IMPRESS project?

Ioannis Gkikas: See, the project is still in the pilot phase. Once we get an outcome and overall outlook of the project from a wider angle, we will know more about strategies to improve it and how to deal with affected citizens directly. Also saying that, I’ll add, referring to this project as a model, many other European communities might be beneficial by following the same tools and methodologies, or may even experiment otherwise. And I strongly believe a robust monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system to assess the project's progress and impact will be helpful. More than anything, we look forward to the project results and its recommendations for the pilot sites.

This project has received funding from the Horizon Europe Framework Programme (HORIZON) Research and Innovation Actions under grant agreement No. 101074004.

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