World Tsunami Awareness Day Panel Discussion

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - New York UNHQ Liaison Office



World Tsunami Awareness Day

Panel Discussion

5 November 2019, 1.15 pm - 2.30 pm, United Nations, New York


Excellencies, delegates, distinguished guests,

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the fourth annual World Tsunami Awareness Day.

I am extremely pleased that His Excellency Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the 74th session of the General Assembly; the Honourable Mr. Teru Fukui Member of Parliament, Japan; and Her Excellency Mona Juul, Permanent Representative of Norway and President of the ECOSOC could be here this afternoon to deliver introductory remarks. Your presence is testament to the importance of disaster risk reduction for the achievement of sustainable development and the need to continue raising awareness of the devastation caused by tsunamis.

Allow me to express my appreciation to our co-hosts, the Permanent Missions of Australia, Chile, Indonesia, Japan, Maldives, Norway and Peru, as well as UNDP. I would like to thank the Government of Japan for their leadership and support for World Tsunami Awareness Day.

From the Indian Ocean and the Java Sea to the north and south Pacific, tsunamis and earthquakes have destroyed communities and left families devastated in their wake. Tsunamis are the deadliest and most costly of all disasters. In minutes, they wipe-out decades of investment in development.

You may think that very little can be done in the face of a 30-meter wall of water travelling at 60 kilometers an hour. However, when disaster risk reduction is applied, there is concrete evidence that it works. Even for tsunamis.

Much of the risk can be reduced with early warning systems that directly reach people in danger. Lives can be saved when people know what actions to take when they hear a tsunami alert and how to help their neighbours in need.

This is why World Tsunami Awareness Day is so important.

But we know that coastal communities face multiple hazards, many of which are exacerbated by climate change.

The Sendai Framework calls for a multi-hazard approach to disaster risk reduction. As countries develop disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020 deadline set by Sendai Framework Target E, tsunamis risk must be included in these multi-hazard strategies, where appropriate. It is critical that the implementation of these strategies is financed.

Under the theme “Build to Last” this year’s International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction focused on Target D of the Sendai Framework, to significantly reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services.

Planning regulations and building codes must take account of tsunamis to save lives, avoid injuries, and reduce damage to infrastructure. UNDRR is pleased to be part of the Coalition on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure launched by the Government of India. I encourage all countries to join this important coalition.

Today we will hear several examples of countries working towards Target D. I am delighted to share a video with an example from Ocosta Elementary School in Washington State, which includes a Tsunami shelter as part of a resilient structure that is built to last.

[Video plays – 2 minutes]

Disaster risk reduction is everybody’s business and a participatory all-of-society approach is crucial to its success. The Sendai Framework encourages countries to give children and youth the space to actively participate. I am delighted that students who participated at the 2019 World Tsunami Awareness Day High School Summit in Hokkaido, Japan, are part of our panel this afternoon.

Excellencies, delegates, distinguished guests,

It is my pleasure to invite H.E. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the 74th session of the General Assembly, to deliver opening remarks.

Excellency, you have the floor.

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