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UNESCO’s Director General visited Chile’s Tsunami Early Warning Provider

Date: 12 May 2022

On 5 May 2022, the Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Audrey Azoulay, made an official visit to the Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service of the Chilean Navy (SHOA) located in Valparaiso, Chile, to review the work carried out by SHOA towards the development of science and prediction of sea behavior in the event of a tsunami on the Chilean coast.

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SHOA acts as the IOC-UNESCO focal point and is the national agency responsible for tsunami warnings in Chile. SHOA is very active in the Pacific Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (PTWS), one of the four regions of the Global Tsunami Warning System coordinated by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO). In close cooperation with the UNESCO Office in Santiago, the IOC has strongly supported the reinforcement of SHOA and national stakeholders on tsunami warning and mitigation aspects.

During her tour of the SHOA facilities, the Director-General expressed her satisfaction with the work carried out towards the development of science and prediction of sea behavior in the event of a tsunami on the Chilean coast. The Director-General has also highlighted the Chilean Government’s commitment to protect a significant percentage of its maritime territory under the legal categories of marine reserves and parks.

The UNESCO delegation was received by the Director of the Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service of the Chilean Navy, Commodore Arturo Oxley, who made a presentation on the most relevant aspects of SHOA’s work.

In the course of his presentation, Commodore A. Oxley highlighted the important work carried out by SHOA together with the national and international scientific community towards the promotion and dissemination of knowledge about the ocean area under Chile’s national jurisdiction as illustrated by the work of the CIMAR Marine Research Cruises, which this year are headed to the Pacific Islands region.

In addition, the SHOA Director emphasized the work through the National Oceanographic Committee (CONA) to direct scientific concerns and projects towards increasing knowledge of marine resources and opportunities. This includes the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), which since 2021 has invited the world community to create new research networks that can help deliver a sustainable and healthier marine environment.

The visit continued in the Operations Room of the National Tsunami Warning System (SNAM), where the UNESCO delegation had an in-depth overview on the staff’s permanent work to collect and process useful data passed on to the competent authorities in the occurrence of earthquakes and tsunamis, both within and beyond Chile’s borders.

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At the end of her visit, Ms Audrey Azoulay thanked the hosts for the warm reception and urged SHOA, and Chile, to continue to be leaders in the provision of scientific knowledge and tsunami and hydrographic warning services for the region.

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About the IOC-UNESCO:

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO) promotes international cooperation in marine sciences to improve management of the ocean, coasts and marine resources. The IOC enables its 150 Member States to work together by coordinating programmes in capacity development, ocean observations and services, ocean science and tsunami warning. The work of the IOC contributes to the mission of UNESCO to promote the advancement of science and its applications to develop knowledge and capacity, key to economic and social progress, the basis of peace and sustainable development.

About the Hydrographic and Oceanographic Services of the Chilean Navy (SHOA):

The primary mission of the Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service of the Chilean Navy is to provide technical elements, information and technical assistance to offer navigational safety in fluvial and lacustrine areas, internal waters, territorial waters, and in the high seas adjacent to the Chilean littoral. It represents the official, technical service of the State, regarding all that has to do with hydrography, maritime, fluvial and lacustrine hydrographic survey, nautical cartography, production and  publication od navigational charts of national waters, oceanography, planning and coordination of all national oceanographic activities relates to physical-chemical researchers, tides, currents and tidal waves, nautical geography, navigation, astronomy, official time signal and aerophotogrametry applied to the nautical chart.

About the Ocean Decade:

Proclaimed in 2017 by the United Nations General Assembly, the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) (‘the Ocean Decade’) seeks to stimulate ocean science and knowledge generation to reverse the decline of the state of the ocean system and catalyse new opportunities for sustainable development of this massive marine ecosystem. The vision of the Ocean Decade is ‘the science we need for the ocean we want’. The Ocean Decade provides a convening framework for scientists and stakeholders from diverse sectors to develop the scientific knowledge and the partnerships needed to accelerate and harness advances in ocean science to achieve a better understanding of the ocean system, and deliver science-based solutions to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The UN General Assembly mandated UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) to coordinate the preparations and implementation of the Decade.