Invest At Scale in Coastal Communities’ Resilience: Guterres on Tsunami Awareness Day


UN chief Antonio Guterres. — File photo

Science and international cooperation – as well as preparedness and early action – must be at the heart of our efforts to save lives from tsunamis and other hazards, Guterres said.

NEW DELHI — Rising sea levels caused by the climate emergency will further exacerbate the destructive power of tsunamis, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on World Tsunami Awareness Day on Friday.

“(Therefore) we must limit warming to 1.5 degrees over pre-industrial averages and invest at scale in the resilience of coastal communities,” Guterres said.

His mention of 1.5 degrees was with respect to the ongoing COP26, the annual climate change conference, where world leaders are negotiating climate actions and finance to bring down emissions to restrict global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial era.

While rare, tsunamis can have devastating and long-lasting impact on affected populations. Moreover, few coastal regions in the world are safe from tsunamis considering the multiple ways they can be triggered.

The devastating 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami had caused nearly 2,30,000 deaths across 14 countries. That was the prompt for several countries to come together and prepare for addressing this common threat with better warnings, awareness, and preparedness to protect the vulnerable populations.

India has a vast coastline and in 2004, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh among others were severely impacted due to a tsunami. It prompted the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to formulate Tsunami Risk Management Guidelines to outline inter-agency roles and responsibilities, tsunami risk preparedness, mitigation and response.

Calling on countries, international bodies, and civil society to increase understanding about the threat and share innovative approaches to reduce risks, Guterres said, “We can build on progress achieved – ranging from better outreach to tsunami-exposed communities around the world, to the inclusion of a Tsunami Programme in the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. However, the risks remain immense.

Science and international cooperation – as well as preparedness and early action – must be at the heart of our efforts to save lives from tsunamis and other hazards, he said.

Boosting support to developing countries and improving detection and early warning is critical, he said, adding, “Let us work to reduce tsunami risk, deliver on the Sendai Framework, and together build resilience against all disasters.

The United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) said tsunamis are the single most deadly of all sudden onset natural hazards. The UNESCO-IOC Tsunami Ready Programme aims to make 100 per cent of tsunami-prone areas tsunami-ready and resilient by 2030. — IANS

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