UN Secretary-General António Guterres says by the year 2030 an estimated 50 per cent of the world’s population will live in coastal areas which are exposed to flooding, storms and tsunamis.
Mr Guterres, in a message marking the 2021 World Tsunami Awareness Day, called on all countries, international bodies and civil society to increase understanding of the deadly threat and share innovative approaches to reduce risks.
“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 UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development,” Mr Guterres said.
The UN chief cautioned, however, that the risked “remain immense.”
“Rising sea levels caused by the climate emergency will further exacerbate the destructive power of tsunamis.
“We must limit warming to 1.5 degrees over pre-industrial averages and invest at scale in the resilience of coastal communities.”
The UN chief noted that rapid urbanisation and growing tourism in regions prone to tsunamis were also putting even more people in harm’s way.
“That is why the UN has chosen enhancing international cooperation for developing countries, as the theme of this year’s World Tsunami Awareness Day,“ he said.
According to Mr Guterres, science, international cooperation, preparedness and early action must be at the centre 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 increasing complex global crises, we need to be better prepared”, he argued.
In 2021, World Tsunami Awareness Day is promoting the “Sendai Seven Campaign,” specifically the target that looks to enhance international cooperation to developing countries.
The secretary-general concludes his message with an appeal to deliver on the Sendai Framework and together build resilience against all disasters.
According to him, tsunamis are rare events but can be extremely deadly.
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.
The highest number of deaths occurred in the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004 that caused an estimated 227,000 fatalities across 14 countries and in which 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 centres.
After the Hyogo Framework for Action expired in 2014, the world adopted the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 to 2030, outlining seven clear targets and four priorities to prevent and reduce disaster risks.