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2005-03-08 09:57:00
Embassy Paris
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						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 PARIS 001496 



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: In a February 10 meeting with
representatives of member states, DG Matsuura reported
that UNESCO had succeeded in assuming a lead role in
coordinating efforts to set up global and regional
tsunami warning systems. He outlined a process --

including a March 3-8 UNESCO/IOC coordination meeting -
that will result in the creation of a politically
agreed framework for a global system by June 2007. He
also set a target date of June 2006 for the realization
of a preliminary Indian Ocean Tsunami warning system,
with a full-fledged system in place by late 2007. IOC
Executive Secretary Patricio Bernal also addressed the
group, briefing on the IOC's Pacific tsunami warning
system. End Summary.

2. DG Matsuura briefed representatives of member
states on his efforts to ensure UNESCO's role as lead
agency for the international coordination of global and
regional tsunami warning systems, based on the
Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission's (IOC) role
in running the tsunami warning center in the Pacific.
Matsuura reported that he had used the Mauritius
meeting on Small Island Developing States (January 10-
14) to announce a strategy and calendar of key events
for the creation of an Indian Ocean tsunami system; in
Mauritius, he also outlined a strategy to build a
global tsunami warning system that would cover the
needs of other at-risk regions, including the
Caribbean, the Mediterranean and the South West
Pacific. Matsuura saw UNESCO's mandate in this area as
also having been enhanced at a special plenary session
on the Indian Ocean Disaster at the January 19-22 Kobe
Conference on disaster reduction, as well as by the
January 29 Ministerial meeting in Phuket.

March 3-8 IOC Coordination Meeting: Regional to Global



3. In this context, Matsuura described the March 3-8
UNESCO/IOC "International Coordinating Meeting for the
Development of a Tsunami Warning System for the Indian
Ocean" as a means of "harmonizing" initiatives launched
by various organizations and countries. Ministers of
Foreign Affairs of Indian Ocean countries, as well as
IOC focal points in other UNESCO member states, have
been requested to encourage the participation of their
technical experts.

4. The March coordination meeting will have two
objectives: first, to draft a work plan and timetable
for creating a tsunami warning and mitigation system
for the Indian Ocean. Second, to produce a draft plan
for a global tsunami warning system.

5. On the Indian Ocean system, Matsuura predicted that

work could proceed quickly, given the consensus among
concerned states that such a system is needed, and
given the fact that the Indian Ocean Global Ocean
Observation system (IGOOS - established in 2002 under
UNESCO auspices) can serve as an important foundation
for a tsunami early warning system. Matsuura expressed
the hope that the March meeting would be followed by an
April meeting at the policy level to discuss
organizational issues related to an Indian Ocean
system, to be presented for approval to the IOC General
Assembly meeting in June. In response to questions,
Matsuura later clarified that the March conference
would likely be followed by a flurry of consultations,
to culminate at the April meeting in agreement on a
"mechanism for the creation of a new system" and the
choice of a location for the regional center. He
acknowledged that this might not be an easy process,
given the existence of so many alternative proposals.

6. On the global tsunami warning system, Matsuura
explained that the March 3-8 conference would not only
focus on linkages with existing warning systems and
with the Global Earth Observation System of Systems
(GEOSS). There would also be a "ground-up approach":
the conference would examine regional components of a
global tsunami warning system. The 2002 UNESCO/IOC
proposal for an "Intra-Americas" system would be a
focus of discussion, as well as proposals for other at-
risk regions, including the Mediterranean, the Atlantic
and the South West Pacific. Once agreement is achieved
on a draft design for a global system, the next step
will be regional coordination meetings: the DG
expressed the hope that a planning meeting for the
Caribbean would take place during the second half of
this year. The DG noted that UNESCO/IOC would also
participate in a February 28 meeting organized by the
EC's Research Directorate to assess existing networks
in the Mediterranean.

7. On timing, Matsuura said that all regional tsunami
systems should come under the "umbrella" of the global
system; the goal is to have a global system in place by
June 2007. He also set a target date of June 2006 for
realization of a preliminary Indian Ocean Tsunami
warning system, with a full-fledged system in place by
late 2007.

8. An important IOC official explained that the June
2007 deadline is for a politically agreed framework for
a global tsunami warning system, with elements of
certain regional systems - the Caribbean and the SW
Pacific -- actually in place. The preliminary Indian
Ocean system would be an "interim" solution derived
from currently available resources that would integrate
instrumentation and networks into existing information
systems in Hawaii and Japan. Adhering to a tight
timeline is crucial in order to take advantage of
current momentum, the IOC official noted.

UNESCO Role in Rebuilding: Education, Water Resources



8. After outlining other UNESCO initiatives in the field of
disaster reduction showcased at the Kobe conference,
Matsuura discussed UNESCO's role in post-tsunami response
efforts. UNESCO's priorities include: proposing temporary
alternative educational services; restoring biological and
cultural diversity, including archives and libraries; and
promoting integrated water management. Administratively,
UNESCO is working through its field offices in Bangkok,
Jakarta, and New Delhi; the Taskforce on Emergency Response,
created by the DG immediately after the tsunami, coordinates
efforts. As efforts have shifted from humanitarian
emergency activities towards longer-term recovery, the DG
has strengthened temporarily the Jakarta field office and
created a UNESCO antenna office in Colombo. Evoking
financing, the DG expressed thanks for donations to date
from member states, and reported the creation of a Tsunami
Special Account.

Budget for Tsunami System: TBD


9. Funding issues relating to the establishment of an
Indian Ocean Tsunami warning system were evoked when the
British Ambassador asked whether the focus on creating a
tsunami network might not be in conflict with the recent

decision to merge the former earth sciences division into
two other divisions in the Natural Sciences sector. Matsuura
acknowledged that the current budget exercise did not
include post-tsunami response activities; however, the draft
budget had been adjusted somewhat: the secretariat will
propose expenditures of 25 million dollars (as a supplement
to the base budget of 610 million dollars to be submitted to
the Executive Board) that would include elements to
strengthen UNESCO's capacity to tackle disaster prevention.

10. Responding to a question from the Sri Lankan Ambassador
on the financing of the tsunami warning system, Matsuura
said that the effort - including training of local experts -
- would require "international assistance." But what counts
most at this point, the DG asserted "is the political will
to establish and run" such a system. Matsuura noted that
UNESCO would fund travel to the March conference for two
experts from each concerned developing country.

11. In a side conversation, a high IOC official responded
to science officer's query on estimated total cost of a
global tsunami warning system by acknowledging that the IOC
had at that point had not yet conducted a cost exercise; he
was not sure whether it would be better to do so before or
after the March 3-8 meeting. He noted that a figure of 30
million dollars over 2-5 years had been evoked, but said
that it had "no technical basis."

GOOS Regional Alliances an Important Tsunami Network "Tool"



12. Queried on the role the GOOS (Global Ocean Observation
System) regional alliances might play in a new global
tsunami warning system, the IOC official responded that the

regional alliances are an essential "tool" in facilitating
contacts among institutions and promoting the implementation
of GOOS; he pointed to the Caribbean GOOS as a particularly
strong example that could be used as a model. But although
the Regional Alliances will certainly play a role in
implementing regional tsunami warning networks, they are not
meant to be governance structures. For example, improving
the means by which tsunami alerts are relayed to citizens -
including mounting national structures that are operational
24/7 - represents a crucial challenge. It is a
responsibility that can only be shouldered by governments.