North-Eastern Atlantic, Mediterranean and connected seas

Tsunami Information Centre

Eighteenth Session of the NEAMTWS Held in Paris, France. Praise for NEAMTWS Advances Amidst Emerging Challenges

The Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Tsunami Early Warning and Mitigation System in the North-Eastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean and Connected Seas (ICG/NEAMTWS) met in Paris, France for its 18th Session on 6–8 February 2024. A key highlight was the election of new ICG/NEAMTWS officers Mr Alessandro Amato, Italy as the new ICG/NEAMTWS Chairperson and Mr Amr Hamouda (Egypt), Mr Ignacio Aguirre Ayerbe (Spain) for vice Chairpersons for the period 2024-2025. High on the agenda was the status of implementation of UNESCO-IOC Tsunami Ready Recognition Programme, with Cannes (France) becoming the first recognized Tsunami Ready community in NEAM region. The meeting also hailed the finalization and publication of the ICG/NEAMTWS 2021-2030 Strategy Document as an IOC Technical Series and Brochure; the conduction of regional tsunami exercise (NEAMWave23); the new approved two-years Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG-ECHO) funded CoastWAVE Project Phase-II. The group decided to establish a new task team on non-seismic tsunamis and plan the next regional tsunami exercise in 2025.  

New elected officers Mr Alessandro Amato (second from left), Mr Ignacio Aguirre Ayerbe (first from right) and Mr Amr Hamouda (second from right)

The ICG/NEAMTWS XVIII Session was preceded on February 5 by the “CoastWAVE” project meeting on “Strengthening the Resilience of Coastal Communities in the North-eastern Atlantic, Mediterranean Region to the Impact of Tsunamis and Other Sea Level-Related Coastal Hazards”. The Group discussed about the overall progress and achievements in implementing the CoastWAVE project in Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Malta, Morocco, Spain, and Türkiye, including the advancement made towards joining the UNESCO-IOC Tsunami Ready Recognition Programme by communities in Larnaca (Cyprus), Alexandria (Egypt), Samos (Greece), Marsaxlokk (Malta), El Jadida (Morocco), Chipiona (Spain), and Büyükçekmece (Türkiye), as well as in Minturno, Palmi, Marzamemi, Otranto and Stromboli (Italy), Israel (entire coast), and Portugal. Loulé City Council delegates also attended the session to present their advances in tsunami preparedness in the city, which is willing to apply for UNESCO-IOC Tsunami Ready recognition.

Participants appreciated that on 19 January 2024 Cannes Municipality (Alpes Maritimes, France) became the first UNESCO IOC Tsunami Ready recognized community in mainland France and in the NEAM region. Significant progress towards the Tsunami Ready recognition were made in several other countries of the region. The group affirmed its target to establish at least seven additional new UNESCO-IOC Tsunami Ready recognized communities in NEAM countries in the next two years, further contributing to making 100% of communities at risk of tsunami prepared for and resilient to tsunami by 2030 through the implementation of the Tsunami Ready Recognition Programme and other initiatives, as stated by the Ocean Decade Tsunami Programme.

The Group welcomed the high level of participation on the fifth tsunami regional exercise (NEAMWave23) conducted on 6-7 November 2023 with two joint scenarios, one for the Atlantic and one for the Mediterranean. Exercises were conducted for the first time within NEAMWave23 at the local community level in Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Malta, Spain and Türkiye, as well as in France, Italy and Portugal to commemorate the World Tsunami Awareness Day (WTAD) and sensitize about tsunami risk. It was decided to conduct the next NEAM exercise in the 4th quarter of the 2025 (NEAMWave25).

Furthermore, the Group decided to establish a new Task Team on Non-Seismic Tsunamis to respond to the new challenge in addressing the Ocean Decade Tsunami Programme on non-seismic tsunami sources.

The meeting supported the investigation and possible adoption by Tsunami Service Providers of the tsunami forecasting methods based on numerical modeling which represent an improvement over the Decision Matrices presently in use with a view to reducing uncertainty and tsunami false alarms.

Participants welcomed the new approved two-years DG-ECHO funded CoastWAVE Project-Phase II starting on 1 July 2024 on “Scaling-Up and Strengthening the Resilience of Coastal Communities in the North-Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Regions to the Impact of Tsunamis and Other Sea Level-Related Coastal Hazards”, as well as other projects on tsunami science and risk mitigation funded by EU.

Dr. Vladimir Ryabinin, IOC Executive Secretary, provided an opening speech and expressed his gratitude to Professor Maria Ana Baptista from Portugal for serving two consecutive mandates (4 years) as ICG/NEAMTWS Chairperson from 29 May 2020 to 8 February 2024.

Professor Maria Ana Baptista (Centre), outgoing Chair of ICG/NEAMTWS), Dr Vladimir Ryabinin, IOC Executive Secretary (right), and Dr Denis Chang Seng, Programme Specialist and Technical Secretary of ICG/NEAMTWS (left)

The session was attended by 68 participants. A total of 18 IOC Member States participated with 15 from ICG/NEAMTWS. The session was attended by 4 observers including a representative of DG ECHO, EC DG DEFIS and the chairperson of ICG/CARIBE EWS and PTWS. This was the first in-person meeting of the ICG/NEAMTWS since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other unforeseen reason.

Participants of the ICG/NEAMTWS 18 Session