Turkey establishes National Earthquake Council

20 August 2001 The memory of two devastating earthquakes in 1999 has led the Government of Turkey to found the National Earthquake Council.

An independent advisory body operating under the auspices of the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey, the National Earthquake Council is responsible for providing the public with factual information on earthquake-related issues and for specifying priority areas for earthquake-related research in relation to the country’s needs and priorities.

Composed of twenty experts, the Council advises the executive authorities on earthquake-related policy and strategy issues and comments on any ethical problems which may arise.

A year after it its inception, the Council has already begun preparation of a comprehensive report on a Seismic Risk Mitigation Strategy for Turkey. The report lists actions to be taken to mitigate the earthquake hazard and briefly explains the basic principles behind each. The measures advocated examine the structural, legal, administrative, social, educational and economic aspects of each problem.

The Government of Turkey considers the Council as part of national follow-up to the World Conference on Science, which identified natural hazards as being one of the areas requiring special attention in environmental research at the national, regional and international levels. Para.29, Science Agenda).

The Agenda recommends that all countries ‘emphasize capacity-building in vulnerability and risk assessment, early warning of both short-lived natural disasters and long-term hazards of environmental change, improved preparedness, adaptation, mitigation of their effects and integration of disaster management into national development planning.’

‘It is important, however, to bear in mind’ paragraph 34 goes on to say, ‘that we live in a complex world with an inherent uncertainty about long-term trends. Decision-makers must take this into account and therefore encourage the development of new forecasting and monitoring strategies. The precautionary principle is an important guiding principle in handling inevitable scientific uncertainty, especially in situations of potentially irreversible or catastrophic impacts.’

Source: Permanent Delegation of Turkey to UNESCO