WASHINGTON -- In the face of growing global threats such as climate change and extreme weather events, FEMA increased and elevated its strategic international partnerships in 2022. This unprecedented level of international engagement both advances the agency’s role as a global leader in emergency management, while enhancing global safety, security and stability, which ultimately keeps people safe here in the United States and abroad.
In keeping with this strategic objective, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell attended meetings with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in April and November of this year to emphasize the importance of global preparedness and share lessons learned in order to strengthen the U.S. and global disaster resilience posture. Her visit marked the first time in over five years that a FEMA Administrator has engaged directly with NATO and represents the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to strengthening this critical alliance. As the U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO’s Resilience Committee, FEMA leads, shapes and implements the U.S. government’s NATO Resilience policies and priorities.
“Although we may stand on different soils, existential threats like climate change impact all nations. That’s why we must work with our international partners and allies to prepare for both future and immediate risks in order to keep people safe at home and abroad,” said Administrator Criswell. “Across the globe, FEMA is fostering strategic partnerships with counterpart organizations, working together to build global resilience to emergencies and disasters -- both natural and manmade. FEMA’s commitment to helping people before, during and after disasters here in the United States is only strengthened by the recognition that in our increasingly interconnected world, crises don’t discriminate, and they don’t care about lines on a map.”
Throughout 2022, FEMA established new agreements with Belgium and El Salvador and renewed agreements with New Zealand, Romania, Israel and the Directorate General for the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations. These mutually beneficial agreements strengthen resilience and response capabilities through strategic exchange of expertise and real-time operational coordination.
FEMA further demonstrated its global emergency management leadership through its support of trainings and technical exchanges with strategic bilateral partners, such as Mexico.
Back at FEMA headquarters, FEMA resumed hosting high-level delegations after a COVID-19 pandemic hiatus. Administrator Criswell and other senior FEMA leaders met with officials from Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Greece, Israel, Kenya, Norway, Sweden and Vietnam, as well as the United Nations Office of Disaster Risk Reduction, among other foreign partners. These meetings also included technical exchanges with subject matter experts on topics ranging from pandemic preparedness to early alerts and warnings, disaster risk reduction and flood mitigation.
“If there is any lesson to be taken from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that we are all in this together. The partnerships we’re forging across the globe strengthen both the United States and the entire global community by increasing stability and ensuring we are all ready when disaster strikes,” said Administrator Criswell. “A better prepared world means a safer United States, and the only way we can do that is by leveraging our shared resources, our shared knowledge and experiences and our shared sense of purpose.”
In 2022, FEMA also represented the United States in multilateral forums, participating in the United Nations Office of Disaster Risk Reduction Global Platform and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Emergency Preparedness Working Group (EPWG) meetings. This year also marked the first time that FEMA attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Multilateral engagements are crucial opportunities for FEMA to demonstrate its leadership in advancing global climate change mitigation and adaptation, including through the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and other global climate accords. FEMA will lead EPWG meetings and Senior Disaster Management Officials Forum as part of the U.S. 2023 APEC host year.
Under Criswell’s leadership, FEMA continues to strengthen its collaboration with counterpart emergency management organizations and ministries, advancing FEMA’s commitment to international cooperation to bolster global emergency readiness and response capabilities, which ultimately makes the United States and the world a safer place.