2019 World Tsunami Awareness Day
United Nations Headquarters
The 2019 World Tsunamis Awareness Day (WTAD) events in New York are part of the annual global campaign to raise awareness of the risk posed by tsunamis and the need to build more resilient and inclusive societies. As part of a multi-hazard approach to disaster risk reduction, participants will reflect on the importance of reducing tsunami risk through further developing accurate and timely tsunami warning systems; strengthening disaster risk governance to reduce existing disaster risks and avoid creating new risks; and ensuring the meaningful and active participation of all relevant stakeholders. The events in New York will include a focus on the role of young people as agents of change for disaster risk reduction and in raising awareness of the risk posed by tsunamis within their communities.
Linking with the 2019 International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction and the "Sendai Seven" Campaign, WTAD will also focus on Target D of the Sendai Framework, to reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services due to tsunamis. The events will also provide an opportunity to raise further awareness on importance of achieving Target E of the Sendai Framework, to substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020. Building on the deliberations and outcomes of the Summits held during the 2019 General Assembly High-Level Week, WTAD will contribute to strengthen coherence in the implementation of the Sendai Framework, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement, and the Samoa Pathway.
Today’s risk landscape is rapidly changing. New correlations, including between natural, environmental, technological and biological risks, are emerging in ways that were not anticipated. One hazard can trigger another with cascading impacts across sectors and geographies. Intertwined with this risk landscape, tsunamis are devastating natural hazards that pose massive threats to human life and investments in sustainable development. Therefore, a fundamental re-examination of how we deal with risk is needed. An interconnected approach is required to address systemic risks supported by multi-hazard and multidisciplinary risk assessment.
Hundreds of millions of people live in tsunami prone regions and it is estimated that much of the trillions of dollars that will need to be invested annually in infrastructure to achieve the SDGs will be built in coastal areas. It will need to be built in a resilient manner to avoid increasing disaster risk and losses. Tsunamis must be treated as a multidimensional hazard. They are most often caused by earthquakes, landslides and volcanic eruptions, with large earthquakes being the most frequent trigger. Large tsunamis occur with relatively low frequency but have potentially high impact as demonstrated by tsunamis in the Indian Ocean in 2004 and the along the eastern coast of Japan in 2011. Even relatively smaller tsunamis can cause massive devastation as evidenced by the events in Indonesia in 2018. A lower-level tsunami also damaged many key structures in Greece and Turkey in July 2017. Due to their infrequent nature, tsunamis often catch coastal communities off-guard.
Adopted four years ago, the United Nations General Assembly resolution 70/203 designates 5 November as World Tsunami Awareness Day. The General Assembly invites all Member States, the United Nations system, international and regional organizations, to observe WTAD and raise public awareness of the risk caused by tsunamis.
The WTAD New York events will consist of three parts. The day will begin with an intergenerational dialogue that will be live streamed on UNDRR’s Facebook page and UN Web TV. This will be followed by a panel discussion to identify challenges and share lessons learned in reducing tsunami risk, resilient reconstruction, and integrating tsunamis into multi-hazard disaster risk reduction strategies and early-warning systems. The day will conclude with a reception.