Speech of the Minister of Traffic, Transport and Urban Planning, Ms. Zita Jesus-Leito, on the occasion of the official opening of the Thirteenth Session of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Tsunami and Other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Region ( ICG/CARIBE EWS-XIII)
Date: April 24, 2018
Location: Sta. Barbara Beach and Golf Resort
Ms. Marilyn Alcalá-Wallé, Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport;
Mr. Cesar Toro, IOC Secretary for IOCARIBE;
Mr. Bernardo Aliaga, Technical Secretary for ICG/CARIBE EWS;
Ms. Christa Von Hillebrandt-Andrade, Chairperson of ICG/CARIBE EWS;
Mr. Milton Puentes, Vice Chair of ICG/CARIBE EWS;
Mr. Paul Martens, Vice Chair of ICG/CARIBE EWS;
Mr. Gerard Metayer, Vice Chair of ICG/CARIBE EWS;
Ms. Marva Brown, Secretary General Curaçao National Commission for UNESCO;
Mr. Albert Martis, Permanent Representative of Curaçao and St. Maarten for the World Meteorological Organization;
Representatives of the news media;
On behalf of the Government of Curaçao and myself as Minister of Traffic, Transport and Urban Planning, I want to welcome you all to Curaçao and to the Thirteenth Session of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Tsunami and Other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Region.
I am in particular pleased that today you, as delegates of your countries, continue with your deliberations as a region, under the leadership of the IOC/UNESCO, on how to address the threats that a tsunami poses for our communities.
Your presence here greatly enhances this occasion.
As you know, after the tsunami event in the Indian Ocean in 2004, killing about 240.000 people, it became clear that great effort has to be made to increase the awareness of this natural phenomenon and on how to reduce both the human fatalities and property losses. Moreover, as I understood, in connection with this the IOC/UNESCO established several Intergovernmental Coordination Groups around the world to address this challenge. Cooperation among nations also will bring new opportunities for their countries.
After the shocking tsunami in the Indian Ocean, there were several other devastating tsunami events around the world.
In 2006 in Java Island, a 2-6 meter tsunami killed about 800 people.
In 2009 in Samoa, a 14-meter tsunami killed about 190 people.
In 2010 at the coast of Chile, about 500 people were killed by a tsunami.
In 2011 near Japan, a 10-20-meter tsunami caused 20.000 fatalities
Earthquakes of magnitude 7 to 9 below the bottom of the sea generated these tsunamis.
Now, closer to home.
On January 9 of this year, an earthquake with the magnitude of 7.5 on the scale of Richter was registered in the Caribbean Sea just east of Honduras. Based on preliminary earthquake parameters a tsunami was possible within 1000 km. After an hour the message was: “tsunami waves have been observed and tsunami waves reaching 0.3 to 1 meters are possible for a smaller area.”
Ladies and Gentlemen: This event shows that tsunamis form a real threat for our countries in the Caribbean. Therefore, we have to do our outmost to protect the people in our region.
In this connection, I would like to recall two of the most important decisions taken by the UN in 2015.
First, The adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Reduction in 2015.
The four priorities of this framework are:
- Understanding disaster risk, such knowledge can be used for risk assessment, prevention, mitigation, preparedness and response.
- Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk, Disaster risk governance at the national, regional and global levels is very important to foster collaboration and partnership.
- Investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience; public and private investment in disaster risk prevention and reduction through structural and non-structural measures to enhance the economic, social, health and cultural resilience countries and their assets, as well as the environment.
- Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction
Secondly, the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015. In this regard, there are several ways how this distinguished group can contribute to the SDGs.
Let me single out four of the 17 SDGs with respect to this Session.
SDG 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere.
Virtually all work on reducing disaster risk, advancing research and providing information and services for decision-making contributes to development and the elimination of poverty.
SDG 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.
Tsunami waves can damage or destroy vulnerable infrastructure, resulting in both economic and human losses. Tsunami warnings can protect infrastructure and industry, while tsunami risk assessment provides guidance on the placement of infrastructure in coastal areas.
SDG 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
By helping planners to make cities more tsunami-resilient, empower the poor and vulnerable, and protect cultural and natural heritage sites.
SDG 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.
The establishment of the ICG has as a priority as a regional body to strengthen capacity development, in order to enhance the capability of all the countries in the Caribbean and adjacent regions and to fulfill their mandates for providing the best tsunami information.
Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In connection with the above, your work in the area of risk management is of great value for the protection of the people at risk in the countries in our region. While fatalities will occur, saving all of the people at risk should be our aim. Although based on the spectrum of the culture in our region, implying certain challenges, I am very pleased with the advances that you have reached in our region by focusing on protection of life and property. Cooperation among nations will bring new opportunities for the countries.
Therefore, on behalf of the Government of Curaçao and its people, I would like to use this opportunity to extend our sincerest appreciation to the IOC/UNESCO and the ICG Members for the commitment that they have shown.
In conclusion, I wish to welcome you again and wish you plenty of in-depth discussions in the session, with the objective to develop high-quality risk reduction plans and SOPs for our communities. In addition, I wish you an enjoyable stay on our island and hope that you can get a glimpse of our beautiful island during your stay. Furthermore, I want to stress that you can always continue to count on my support as the Minister of Traffic, Transport and Urban Planning for the further improvement of this endeavor.
Therefore, I hereby would like to declare open the Thirteenth Session of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Tsunami and Other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Region.
Thanks to all of you for your attention!