Reducing and managing the risk of tsunamis

Manual and Guideline
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This document provides guidance to national Civil Protection agencies and Disaster Management Offices in countries of the North-eastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean and Connected Seas region in their assessment and management of risks to countries’ coastal populations. The guidance is specific to the tsunami hazard but within a multi-hazard context. Its publication fulfils part of the implementation of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group (ICG) of the Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System in the North-eastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean and Connected Seas (NEAMTWS, Annex 1), coordinated by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO. It has been produced by Working Group 4 (Public Awareness, Preparedness and Mitigation) of this ICG.

The guidance aims to support and supplement countries’ established procedures in respect of preparedness for, and response to, natural hazards and disasters. It highlights the special features of the tsunami hazard and the particular challenges faced by Civil Protection agencies in being prepared for, and responding to, a tsunami event. The guidance has been compiled within the multihazard context of the “Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters” (UN/ISDR, 2005). It promotes the need for a multi-sectoral approach, introducing risk reduction measures – mainly prevention and mitigation – e.g., in land-use and urban planning, environmental management, health, agriculture, education, transport, construction and tourism.

For maritime countries within the European Union (EU), the guidance relates to the establishment or strengthening of National Platforms or focal points for disaster risk reduction, as promoted by the Hyogo Framework. It is relevant to the requirements of the EU’s Floods Directive of 2007 in which Flood Risk Management Plans, focused on prevention, protection and preparedness, are required to be in place by the year 2015 (Box 2.7). The guidance also relates to the requirements on Mediterranean countries that are Contracting Parties to the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Protocol of the Barcelona Convention, adopted in 2008 and entered into force in March 2011. The Parties have obligations in respect of risks affecting the coastal zone, including natural hazards and responses to natural disasters (Articles 22 and 24) (UNEP, undated). These parties include all EU Mediterranean Member States.

The document draws on UNESCO-IOC publications including IOC Manuals and Guides Numbers 49 (UNESCO, 2008), 50 (UNESCO, 2009a) and 52 (UNESCO, 2009b), and the Tsunami Glossary (IOC, 2008b). It acknowledges the contributions of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN-ISDR) in their provision of advice on disaster risk reduction, including tsunamis. The outputs of EU research projects TRANSFER and SCHEMA provide important reference material. The document aims to avoid the duplication of general advice relating to natural hazard management that is available elsewhere. The document should be used in conjunction with the Interim Operational Users Guide for the NEAMTWS for large-scale tsunamis, which provides users of the system with, inter alia, technical detail on tsunami detection and messaging protocols.