UNESCO/IOC begins needs assessment of Indian Ocean countries for national tsunami early warning systemsUNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) is working with several Indian Ocean nations to identify their requirements and capacity needs for an effective and durable national tsunami warning and mitigation system.
The assessment studies were requested by several Indian Ocean nations at the Second International Coordination Meeting of an Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System, which was organized by the IOC in Grand Baie, Mauritius last week (April 14-16).
The first coordination meeting was held at UNESCO’s Paris Headquarters from March 3 to 8 and established that the system would be based on a coordinated network of national systems and capacities, and that each Member State would be responsible for issuing warnings within their respective boundaries.
In Mauritius, however, several countries from the region indicated that the requirements for a national system were not clearly defined and requested clarification so as to avoid duplication and waste of resources.
The results of the assessment studies will be used to finalize the technical plans for both the national and regional systems. They should also facilitate the coordination of donors assistance for the different components – from technical requirements and instrumentation to communication channels and public education programmes.
Donor nations attending the Mauritius meeting, including Belgium, Finland, and Norway, pledged some $5m over and above earlier contributions for specific activities linked to the tsunami warning and mitigation system. Several others, including Australia, France, Italy, Japan, Germany and the United States of America, along with the European Commission, also indicated their continuing support and their willingness to provide more financial aid as the plans for the system became more clearly defined.
UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura, speaking at the 171st session of the Organization’s Executive Board today, said that the Mauritius Declaration issued at the close of the meeting “reaffirms the participating countries’ commitment to an open, free and unrestricted sharing of tsunami-relevant real time observational data in accordance with the IOC Oceanographic Data Exchange Policy,” which is also critical for an effective region-wide warning system.
The Declaration, Mr Matsuura said, also clearly endorsed the IOC’s leadership in the establishment of the warning system and recognized the Commission’s General Assembly “as the responsible authority for establishing an Intergovernmental Coordination Group that would govern the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System.”
The next IOC General Assembly will be held at UNESCO’s Paris Headquarters from June 21 to 30. Apart from setting up the Intergovernmental Coordination Group (ICG), it is also expected to adopt the blueprint for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System. The ICG will be responsible for implementing the plan, which should be operational by June 2006.