Warning that by 2030, half of the world’s population will be exposed to flooding, storms, and tsunamis, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged the international community to raise awareness about these threats and share measures for decreasing risks.
We can build on the progress achieved, ranging from better outreach to tsunami-exposed communities around the world, to the inclusion of a tsunami program in the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, the UN chief said in a message marking the 2021 World Tsunami Awareness Day.
He cautioned, however, that the risks remain immense. Rising sea levels caused by the climate emergency will further exacerbate the destructive power of tsunamis, Guterres said.
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We must limit warming to 1.5 degrees over pre-industrial averages and invest at scale in the resilience of coastal communities. Rapid urbanization and growing tourism in regions prone to tsunamis are also putting even more people in harm’s way.
It's World Tsunami Awareness Day. By 2030, ~50% of the 🌏's people will live in coastal areas exposed to flooding, storms & tsunamis.
SOS works in communities impacted by tsunamis, like Indonesia, to keep children safe and help families rebuild and become more resilient. pic.twitter.com/BefAQqe7hu
— SOS Children's Villages Canada (@SOSChildrenCan) November 5, 2021
For the UN chief, science, international cooperation, preparedness, and early action must be at the center of all efforts to keep people and communities safer.
Boosting support to developing countries and improving detection and early warning is critical. In the face of increasingly complex global crises, we need to be better prepared, he said.
Tsunamis are rare but deadly
In 2021, World Tsunami Awareness Day is promoting the Sendai Seven Campaign, specifically the target that looks to enhance international cooperation with developing countries.
The Secretary-General concluded his message with an appeal to deliver on the Sendai Framework, and, together, build resilience against all disasters.
Tsunamis are rare events but can be extremely deadly, the UN pointed out. In the past 100 years, 58 of them have claimed more than 260,000 lives or an average of 4,600 per disaster – more than any other natural hazard.
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The highest number of deaths occurred in the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, which caused an estimated 227,000 fatalities across 14 countries. Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand were the hardest hit.
Just three weeks after the disaster, the international community came together in Kobe, Japan, and adopted the 10-year Hyogo Framework for Action, the first comprehensive global agreement on disaster risk reduction.
They also created the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System, which uses seismographic and sea-level monitoring stations to send alerts to national tsunami information centers.
After the Hyogo Framework for Action expired, in 2014, the world adopted the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, outlining seven clear targets and four priorities to prevent and reduce disaster risks.