07.02.2012 - UNESCOPRESS

Japan : policy perspectives one year after the tsunami struck

One year after the devastating tsunami hit the east coast of Japan, UNESCO and the United Nations University (UNU) are organizing a symposium (Tokyo, 16 - 17 February) to examine the lessons learned from the disaster; consider its policy implications, and the importance of preparedness and discuss tsunami warning systems.

The symposium will be opened by the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova; the Rector of the United Nations University, Konrad Osterwalder; and the Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and Assistant UNESCO Director-General, Wendy Watson-Wright. It will bring together leading scientists and policy makers.
These specialists will address a range of questions that have arisen from the tsunami and resulting humanitarian response, including: How can a country prepare for the unexpected? How can education contribute to community preparedness? What are the most effective ways of warning the people concerned? How can the involvement of intergovernmental organizations in setting up warning systems be strengthened?
The 9.0 magnitude earthquake and following tsunami of 11 March 2011, claimed 20,000 lives (65% of the victims were aged 60 or more) and destroyed more than 128,000 homes. It also annihilated infrastructure such as town halls, fire stations, hospitals and schools.
UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission established an International Coordination Group for the Tsunami Warning System in the Pacific in 1965, following the major tsunami of 1960 that hit the coasts of Chile, Japan, Hawaii and Philippines, and claimed close to 2,000 lives. The purpose of the Group is to coordinate the ongoing development and enhancement of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Systems and to promote the establishment of national risk assessments, alert and response programmes.
Most tsunamis occur in the Pacific Ocean and connected seas. Over the past three years, three major tsunamis have struck: Samoa in 2009, Chile in 2010, and Japan in 2011.


Media contact: Agnès Bardon, UNESCO Press Service. Tel : +33 (0) 1 45 68 17 64, a.bardon@unesco.org
More on the symposium : www.ioc-cd.org/index.php

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