When I meet Peter online from his home-based office on the outskirts of the city central, there is an immediate serious tone to the conversation. “It is awful to see the war happening at the moment”, Peter says but then highlights that when working in civil protection and visiting civil protection authorities, the people set politics aside. Worldwide, the field of civil protection’s focus is on helping the people. “We know that there are difficulties in the partner countries but as soon as you talk with experts and about civil protection, many differences disappear. I look forward to contribute to bringing people together, despite the different views, to work together for the safety of the people” Peter says and it is clear that he has a challenging time ahead of him.
Building capacity for long lasting results
Peter started his career in Disaster Management back in 1992 in the Fire Service Academy in the Netherlands. After graduating from rural planning studies, there was not so much work in the field. Instead, he quickly became a leading fire officer in the regional fire brigade in The Hague. He then continued to work on international issues and that’s when he first got involved within the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
He explains that he wanted to work in the PPRD East Programme because he likes the dynamic of the fast changing environment in the Eastern Partnership countries, with an ongoing development in the region. He was also involved in phase 2, as the evaluator of the programme, giving him a unique insight. Moreover, Peter emphasises the value of being involved in a long-term capacity building programme: “It is a real challenge, but rewarding to really be able to build capacity and to be involved long term, ensuring long lasting results,” Peter says. On a personal note, Peter is starting to settle in his new home and really appreciates the people, the culture, the food- and to be able to explore a new country.
Bringing people together
Peter’s broad background in Disaster Management and Capacity Development will serve the programme well. His experience includes working in various countries with many different partners and stakeholders, as well as from EU funded programmes and projects. “I like bringing people together and making a success of it.” Peter says with a smile. He believes leaders should know what they are talking about. “Leading a team is not only managing the team, it is also about being aware of the situation we work with”, Peter says and continues to explain that he has a collaborative and supportive style of leading. “We work with professionals, both in the partner countries and in the consortium, where everyone is very capable to do the work and to deliver results. My role is to help where needed, to make sure everyone is on the same path and to bring us all together towards the same goal.”
Mutual learning is an important part of the programme and when asked what he thinks he will learn from the process, he says that he already learned a lot during the evaluation period. All partners and each organisation excel in different fields, which enables us all to learn from each other throughout the programme period and beyond.
Improving the safety of the citizens
Peter’s ambition for the future is that we don’t settle for the change management by just talking to each other, overlooking procedures, guidelines and strategies. “I want to see in two- three years’ time, that our work has really improved the safety of the citizens.” He also looks forward to meeting the people in the partner countries, in their own environment. “I find it important to see people, hear their needs and talk to them, in person. To talk to the experts and see what we can do together to help the people. I look forward to really have impact of the safety of the people”
Peter on the top of Boven, a hill on Sint Eustatius with a
view on the volcano the Quill. He worked on the Island from
March 2020 until December 2021 with the Covid-19 response.
Personal: Married to Desiree, 2 adult children (daughter 27, son 25), both have graduated their master degrees started in their jobs.
Hobbies: travelling, hiking and cycling.
Written by Johanna Rixer, Communication officer PPRD East 3, MSB