North-Eastern Atlantic, Mediterranean and connected seas

Tsunami Information Centre

Strengthening Coastal Resilience: UNESCO-IOC Initiative Gathers Momentum

Coastal communities worldwide are uniting to bolster their resilience to ocean hazards. Convening at the sidelines of the 2024 Ocean Decade Conference in Barcelona, Spain (10-12 April 2024), on 11 April, experts and policymakers underscored the need for proactive measures to fortify resilience against tsunamis, aligning with the Ocean Decade Challenge 6 aimed at enhancing community resilience for ocean hazards. 

Against a backdrop of mounting risks faced by coastal populations, the Satellite Event titled “Coastal Cities and Communities Joining Tsunami Ready” served as a pivotal platform for stakeholders to deliberate on strategies for shoring up community resilience. Held from April 10 to 12 April, the Ocean Decade conference saw participants from diverse regions come together to exchange insights and chart a course towards greater preparedness. 

Central to the discussions around ocean hazards was the Ocean Decade Tsunami Programme (ODTP), established in 2021 with the ambitious goal of ensuring 100% of vulnerable coastal communities are equipped to withstand tsunamis by 2030. At its core lies the UNESCO-IOC Tsunami Ready Recognition Programme (TRRP), which champions proactive measures to safeguard at-risk populations. 

The event spotlighted the UNESCO-IOC Tsunami Ready Recognition Programme as a linchpin in fortifying coastal resilience. By bringing together 13 experts and decision-makers from regions spanning the Northeastern Atlantic and Mediterranean to the Caribbean, Pacific, and Indian Ocean, the initiative underscored the critical role of collaboration in enhancing community preparedness. 

Vidar Helgesen, Executive Secretary of the IOC/UNESCO, emphasized the significance of the Tsunami Ready initiative within the Ocean Decade Challenge 6, heralding it as a testament to global collaboration. Through synergistic partnerships across sectors and governance levels, the initiative empowers governments and communities alike in preempting disasters, including tsunamis. 

Celebrating the strides made since the launch of the Ocean Decade in 2021, the event lauded newly recognized cities and communities for their commitment to resilience. Among the honorees were Cannes (France), Büyükçekmece (Türkiye), Sila and Navuevu villages (Fiji), Union Island and Kingstownto Argyle (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), and Tanjung Benoa (Indonesia), underscoring the global reach of the resilience-building endeavor. 

Crucially, the discussions underscored the imperative of a multidisciplinary approach to confronting coastal vulnerabilities. Participants emphasized the need for concerted action, stressing the importance of scaling up initiatives such as the CoastWAVE project to address the evolving landscape of ocean hazards. 

The event sent a resounding message to the whole Ocean Decade community and beyond: collective action is paramount in safeguarding coastal areas against tsunamis. Through knowledge sharing and collaborative endeavors, communities can forge a path towards resilience, mitigating the impact of potentially catastrophic coastal hazards in the years to come.