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Tsunami warning and mitigation systems to protect coastal communities: tsunami early warning and mitigation system in the North-Eastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean and connected seas (NEAMTWS) 2005 - 2020

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Background

This Fact Sheet describes the development and main elements of ICG/NEAMTWS. In particular, it highlights the achievements, and contributions of NEAMTWS to disaster risk reduction, UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals. It also captures the overall governance, status, challenges and opportunities in the further development of NEAMTWS.

Following the disastrous 2004 tsunami, in which over 230,000 lives were lost around the Indian Ocean region, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO was mandated by its Member States to facilitate the expansion of global coverage of Tsunami Warning and Mitigation Systems (TWS), and to coordinate the establishment of the Tsunami Early Warning and Mitigation System in the North-Eastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean and Connected Seas (NEAMTWS).

During the Twenty-third Session of the IOC Assembly (IOC-XXIII/3 held from 21 to 30 June 2005, the ICG/NEAMTWS was formally established through Resolution XXIII-14.

The need to develop NEAMTWS was recognized early in the European Council Conclusions of December 2007 (15479/07) on the development and establishment of Early Warning Systems in the EU, on the establishment of an Early Warning System for tsunamis in the North-East Atlantic and the Mediterranean region, and in the Council Conclusions on Reinforcing the Union’s Disaster Response Capacity – towards an integrated approach to managing disasters of June 2008 (7562/08).

To make meaningful progress, countries must share and sustain existing geophysical and sea-level data streams in the required time and space resolution. There is a need to continuously improve the tsunami detection and forecast system. Civil Protection Agencies and other stakeholders need to play a more active role. There is an increasing need to focus on education and awareness raising in NEAM region. Community Tsunami Readiness should be an important part of the equation to addressing tsunami risk in the region.

The benefits and contributions of Tsunami Early Warning and Mitigation Systems to society and its governance are next presented in that order.