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Tsunami and Ocean Hazards

Marine hazards, such as storm surges, tsunamis or biohazards, can be devastating for the coasts and their communities. They can also have lasting and damaging effects on the coastal landscape, causing long-term coastal erosion, and on marine ecosystems.

UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO) aids and advises policy makers and managers in the reduction of risks from tsunamis, storm surges, harmful algal blooms and other coastal hazards by focusing on implementing adaptation measures to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable coastal communities, their infrastructure and service-providing ecosystems.

Ocean biohazards fall into several categories, of which the most important is the production of toxins by some species of algae under particular circumstances. If these organisms proliferate they become known as harmful algal blooms (HABs) which can have profound effects on seawater ecology and potentially human health. The Harmful Algal Blooms Programme is designed to foster the effective management of, and scientific research on, harmful algal blooms in order to understand their causes, predict their occurrences, and mitigate their effects.

The IOC Tsunami Programme aims at reducing the loss of lives and live hoods that could be produced worldwide by tsunamis. The IOC Tsunami Unit supports IOC Member States in assessing tsunami risk, implementing Tsunami Early Warning Systems (EWS) and in educating communities at risk about preparedness measures.

After forty years of experience coordinating the Pacific Tsunami Warning System (PTWS), IOC-UNESCO is now leading a global effort to establish ocean-based tsunami warning systems as part of an overall multi-hazard disaster reduction strategy in order to provide adequate protection at local, regional, and global scales.