We tagged along with Nexus...
Recently, I tagged along with the Icelandic security research forum Nexus (not to be confused with our 2014 ‘Best Bookstore’ Nexus) to meet with an officer from Almannavarnadeild, Iceland’s Civil Protection Unit. Nexus is a research forum in the field of security and defence. It’s an independent NGO, loosely affiliated with the Institute of International Affairs at the University of Iceland aimed at providing independent academics an open and free research forum. I don’t have much of a background in security myself, but some of my more qualified friends promised me free food and an interesting presentation.
Before the talk I knew absolutely nothing about Almannavarnadeild. To be honest, I couldn’t even say the name after the second syllable (Almanna…?). I learned that it’s charged with protection and relief from people, property and the environment. In many countries, civil protection departments are largely Cold War relics, but in Iceland (where nature is sometimes literally out to get you) it continues to have contemporary implications. Specifically,
“The aim of civil protection is to prepare, organise and implement measures aimed at preventing and, to the extent possible, limiting physical injury or damage to the health of the public and damage to the environment and property, whether this results from natural catastrophes or from human actions, epidemics, military action or other causes, and to provide emergency relief and assistance due to any injury or damage that may occur or has occurred.” (Civil Protection Act, Article 1)
One particularly important responsibility of Almannavarnadeild is coordination with the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. This istool used to help communication between EU countries, Iceland, Norway, and “the former Yugoslav Republic of” Macedonia, with victims of natural and man-made disasters in Europe and elsewhere. According to theAlmannavarnadeild officer, Iceland puts about 13 million ISK into this programme every year, but receives around 20 million ISK back in expertise and knowledge.
TL;DR Almannavarnadeild is a good example to throw in the faces of people who think ‘we shouldn’t be giving money away when we need it to take care of ourselves’.