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Seventeenth Session of the ICG/NEAMTWS : Ten Tsunami Ready Recognized Communities by 2023 as a Contribution to Making 100% of Communities at Risk of Tsunami Prepared for and Resilient to Tsunamis

Date: 14 December 2021

The Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Tsunami Early Warning and Mitigation System in the North-Eastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean and Connected Seas (ICG/NEAMTWS) held its 17th session of the ICG/NEAMTWS online between 24-26 November 2021.

Despite the ongoing health pandemic, important progress has been achieved during the inter-sessional period. The Group welcomed the approval of a new IOC European Union DG-ECHO (European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations) NEAMTWS project 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 project will help drive and shape the establishment and enhancement of tsunami early warning systems in several countries. An important milestone reported is the finalization of a new ICG/NEAMTWS 2021-2030 Strategy in line with the UN Ocean Science Decade for Sustainable Development. The Group encouraged Member States and partners to contribute to its implementation. Another key achievement is the successful results of the fourth tsunami exercise for the region, NEAMWave21 conducted between 8-10 March 2021 and the major increase in media interest.

First tsunami end-to-end exercise, 5 Nov 2021, Marsaxlokk, Malta Source

First tsunami end-to-end exercise, 5 Nov 2021, Marsaxlokk, Malta Source:  Denis Chang Seng

There is also continued national efforts in several countries to increase awareness on tsunami hazards and preparedness in line with and as contributions to the World Tsunami Awareness Day, 5 November 2021, and the tsunami exercises conducted in France and Malta. There is progress made by communities of Bouches-du-Rhône and Cannes (France); Kos (Greece); Israel; Minturno, Pachino, Palmi (Italy); Marsaxlokk (Malta); Azores, Cascais, Lagos, Lisboa, Madeira, Portimão, Setúbal (Portugal); Chipiona (Spain), Bodrum and Istanbul (Turkey) towards becoming Tsunami Ready and prepared. A new Task Team on Tsunami Ready was also established at the ICG/NEAMTWS-XVII session.

Another accomplishment is the study prepared by the Secretariat on Coastal Multi-Hazard Risk Perception, Resilience and Survey Questionnaires to contribute to the implementation of the new project concerning understanding and communication strategies of tsunami and other sea-level related risks. The session also appreciated the support of the European Commission (EC) and the Joint Research Centre (JRC), especially for the Last Mile Project Phase 2 implemented in Malta, and the support provided to the organisation of the first end-to-end tsunami exercise on 5 November 2021.

The Group set a target to establish at least ten Tsunami Ready recognized communities in Mediterranean countries in the next two years, contributing to making 100% of communities at risk of tsunami prepared for and resilient to tsunamis by 2030 through the implementation of the UNESCO/IOC Tsunami Ready Programme and other initiatives.

The session decided to organize and conduct the NEAMWave 23 tsunami exercise within the first week of the World Tsunami Awareness Day, 5 November 2023. The Seventeenth Session of the ICG/NEAMTWS was attended by around 78 participants from 16 member countries and a few observers.