UNESCO-IOC Facilitates Workshop to Strengthen Tsunami Warning Chain to Ports, Harbours and Coastal Airports

In commemoration of 15 years following the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and the World Tsunami Awareness Day, UNESCO-IOC jointly with the Government of Indonesia organized the Indian Ocean Regional Workshop on “Strengthening Tsunami Warning Chain to Critical Infrastructure” during 20-22 November 2019 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Expert presentations during the workshop facilitated the lesson-learnt sharing from Japan and Indonesia on the impact of tsunamis on ports, harbours and coastal airports, and best practices for enhancing tsunami preparedness within such critical infrastructure facilities. This was followed by moderated discussions to identify current status, challenges and actions needed to enhance tsunami risk knowledge, warning dissemination and communication, and preparedness and response capacities.

Many ports, harbours and coastal airports bordering the Indian Ocean do not have an assessment of tsunami hazard and risk to their facilities. Knowledge of official warning products and direct access to official tsunami warning information from the National Tsunami Warning Centres (NTWCs) is limited. There is a need for guidance and capacity to develop actionable warning products for key stakeholders, tsunami standard operating procedures, emergency response plans as well as preparedness and awareness initiatives.

UNESCO-IOC through its Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (ICG/IOTWMS) Secretariat and Indian Ocean Tsunami Information Centre (IOTIC) were requested to continue capacity development initiatives, and assist with development of regional guidelines for tsunami hazard and risk assessment, mitigation, emergency response, evacuation, recovery and business continuity for critical infrastructure facilities along the coast.

The workshop highlighted the urgent need for critical infrastructure facilities to work closely with relevant experts and national authorities to bridge these gaps. It is reiterated the critical nature of sea-level data for tsunami early warning, enhancing safety of life and efficiency of maritime operations at critical infrastructure facilities, and requested ports, harbors and coastal airports to strengthen tide gauge networks in their facilities and to enable “real-time” data sharing with tsunami early warning centers.

Contributing to the achievement of SDG 11, the workshop also provided an opportunity for participants to develop time-line driven Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), stakeholder roles and responsibilities and early warning chains and for ports, harbors and coastal airports, which were tested during a table-top exercise at the end of the workshop.

In his speech, the Minister of Transportation of the Republic of Indonesia who officially opened the workshop emphasized the important of tsunami readiness of ports, harbors and coastal airports,  particularly in Indonesia, as most of Indonesian coast are prone to local tsunamis. About 40 participants representing ports, harbors, coastal airports, NTWCs and Special Economic Zones of 14 countries including Bangladesh, Comoros, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mozambique, Myanmar, Oman, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste and Tanzania participated in the workshop. The workshop was facilitated by IOTIC and the ICG/IOTWMS Secretariat, with the support of the Indonesian Agency for Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics (BMKG).

List of participants and presentations from the workshop will be made available at .