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Video: Building Regional Tsunami Awareness

Asia-Pacific is one of the most tsunami affected regions in the world. Since the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, more than three quarters of all tsunami affected countries are located in Asia-Pacific and 99 percent of all tsunami related deaths have occurred in the region. This also includes the significant loss of human lives from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Raising tsunami awareness is therefore a top priority for reducing tsunami risks in the Asia-Pacific region.

As a step towards enhancing preparedness efforts, policymakers and tsunami experts participated in a side event on ‘Building Regional Tsunami Awareness,’ during the 72nd Commission session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), held in Bangkok from 15 to 18 May.

H.E. Mr. Lakshman Senewirathna, State Minister of Science, Technology and Research, of Sri Lanka shared the experience of how Sri Lanka recovered from the tragic 2014 Indian Ocean Tsunami, and built awareness around tsunami risk. Mr. Senewirathna also thanked ESCAP’s Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Tsunami, Disaster and Climate Preparedness for its role towards enhancing tsunami preparedness in high-risk countries of Indian Ocean region, including Sri Lanka.

“For a tsunami warning system to be sustainable, it needs to address multiple coastal hazards. This is where science, technology and innovation can support multi-tasking of tsunami early warning systems through regional cooperation, and I see ESCAP playing a significant role in this area,” said Mr. Senewirathna.

H.E. Mr. Masakazu Hamachi, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, further underlined the importance of regional tsunami awareness in reducing human and economic losses.

In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly established 5 November as World Tsunami Awareness Day. In support of the resolution, the ‘Building Regional Tsunami Awareness’ event was organized to raise awareness of tsunami risk in the Asia-Pacific region, and address gaps in early warning systems through capacity building and international collaboration.

The side-event was jointly organized by the Government of Japan and ESCAP. Over 100 government officials, experts, academics, representatives from international and regional organizations participated in the event.