The IOC UNESCO organized an online project kick-off workshop on ‘Strengthening the Resilience of Coastal Communities in the North-East Atlantic, Mediterranean Region to the Impact of Tsunamis and Other Sea Level-Related Coastal Hazard on 17th and 20th December 2021. The 2.5-year project is financially supported by the European Union Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO). The project aims to improve understanding of tsunami and sea-level related risks, develop better communication strategies, enhance real-time detection and monitoring capacities, improve alert and warning capacity. The project aims to implement at least seven Tsunami Ready recognized communities by 2023 in the seven selected countries: Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Malta, Morocco, Spain and Turkey. Dr Denis Chang Seng, Programme Specialist, and Technical Secretary of IOC ICG/NEAMTWS highlighted that the key objectives of the workshop were to officially launch the new project, introduce country project partners and technical support countries, and establish a better understanding of the national and local context. The project is now named ‘CoastWAVE Project’. Mr Bernardo Aliaga, Head of Tsunami Unit (a.i) expressed his gratitude for the renewal of fruitful cooperation between IOC UNESCO and the EU ECHO in the Mediterranean region concerning tsunami early warning and mitigation system. Dr Vladimir Ryabinin, the Executive Secretary of IOC in his opening remarks thanked EU DG ECHO and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) for strong cooperation and collaboration with IOC UNESCO. He said the project is timely and fits the development of the Tsunami Programme. The Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development provides an opportunity to co-design and work with the tsunami community in the Mediterranean region. Mr Peter Billing, EU DG ECHO underlined the excellent long-standing cooperation with UNESCO. The new project aligns with the new ECHO approach on Disaster Risk Reduction on reinforcing local preparedness and education to reduce coastal hazard impacts. He stressed that it is an opportune time to take advantage of lessons learned and share experiences, as well as take benefit of the new IOC UNESCO Tsunami Ready Community programme, a tool to reinforce local preparedness and resilience. Dr Nikos Kalligeris, the Tsunami National Contact and project focal point of Greece, delivered an opening remark prepared by the ICG/NEAMTWS Chair Prof Maria Ana Baptista. The new project initiative is paramount to NEAMTWS, especially considering the rare, but high impact of tsunami events due to high population exposure and tourism activities in the Mediterranean region.
Dr Denis Chang Seng then elaborated on the project details covering several issues including the tsunami hazard and risk context, past and recent events, increasing coastal exposure, as well as the justification for the project intervention. He stressed that CoastWAVE project aims to build upon ongoing achievements, in particular the Joint Research Centre (JRC) the European Commission Last Mile project. Two project staff are expected to be on board by January 2022.
Project partner countries provided presentations concerning the national and local context, including information concerning national project focal point, nominated Tsunami Ready community site, potential project partners and stakeholders, as well as preliminary information concerning the status of risk knowledge, communication strategies, early warning and mitigation system in the proposed/nominated community site. Dr Mathieu Péroche (France) and Dr Alessandro Amato (Italy) shared their experience concerning the ongoing efforts towards implementing the Tsunami Ready community in Cannes and three municipalities in Italy.
The CoastWAVE kick-off workshop was attended by over 35 participants.