Three Meetings in June 2006 Underscore UN Efforts to Improve Early Warning and Mitigation of Natural Disasters

The UN brought together 130 international experts from 20 countries in a Bangkok, Thailand, workshop to help set up a tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean, in a bid to avoid a reply of the December 2004 tsunami. Presumably, many of the more than 200,000 people who perished could have been saved had they received advance warning of the incoming waves.

In Nice, France, experts from 17 countries told governments that they need to strengthen their support for a tsunami early-warning for the North East Atlantic and Mediterranean.

And some 90 experts gathered in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss ways to mitigate the impact of disasters at the “Symposium on Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems for Integrated Disasters Risk Management” organized by the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The WMO said that from 1980 to 2005, over 7,000 natural disasters worldwide had taken the lives of nearly 2 million people and produced economic losses of more than $1 trillion. But the agency pointed out that efforts to better deal with disasters have begun to bear fruit: even as the number of disasters increased 4-fold, the number of fatalities decreased by nearly two-thirds.

“Tsunami Early Warning System Moves Ahead at UN Workshop,” UN News Service, 14 June 2006.
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“UN Symposium Seeks to Enhance Early Warning and Mitigation for Natural Disasters,”UN News Service, 13 June 2006.