Regional cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region is to be increased to build greater resilience to tropical cyclones and related hazards, which wreak a heavy economic and human toll.
At a meeting hosted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Bangkok, Thailand, 9-13 February, representatives from 17 Member countries/territories from two separate – and active - tropical cyclone basins agreed to a series of new initiatives.
These include joint projects, information sharing, opportunities for sharing second generation meteorological satellite products, state-of-the-art modeling solutions, advanced scientific research and analysis, and training activities, with a particular aim of assisting least developed countries at high risk of hydro-meteorological disasters.
Specifically, the two regions will work in partnership to enhance the forecasting of tropical cyclones, typhoons, storm surge, flash floods and landslides, and integrate activities in meteorology, hydrology and disaster risk reduction, which are essential steps to strengthen early warning systems.
The joint session of the WMO/ESCAP Panel on Tropical Cyclones (PTC) and the ESCAP/WMO Typhoon Committee was the first the two groups had held in 18 years. The Typhoon Committee covers the western North Pacific, whilst the Panel on Tropical Cyclones is responsible for the Northern Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
The strengthened regional cooperation will be implemented with support from ESCAP, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and its Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres (RSMCs) in New Delhi and Tokyo.
“The Asia-Pacific region continues to be battered by natural disasters, many of which are caused by hydro-meteorological hazards”, said Mr. Shun-ichi Murata, Deputy Executive Secretary of ESCAP, “Added together, the collective expertise and resources of Typhoon Committee and Panel on Tropical Cyclones Members represent a world-class toolkit, which we can further enhance and share through regional cooperation.”
"There are some commonalities in both the regions, like dense population, the status of social and economic development of many Members. These common features may complicate the consequences of tropical cyclones,” said Taoyong Peng, Chief of WMO’s Tropical Cyclone Programme. “We can improve our forecasting and warning services through cooperation, sharing of information, multi-agency synergy with multi-hazard approach towards tropical cyclone disasters, and capacity development which was, is and will be one of the WMO Strategic Priorities," he said.
Outcomes of the post-Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) expert mission to the Philippines jointly organized by the WMO, UNESCAP and the Typhoon Committee and another mission to Viet Nam organized by WMO, both in April 2014, were presented to the session.
At its session, the Typhoon Committee agreed to retire the name Rammasun from its rotating list of names because of the destruction it caused in the Philippines, Viet Nam and South China in July 2014. Under WMO procedures, tropical cyclones are named and feature on rotating lists. They are removed from the list if they cause heavy loss of life and destruction.
The Typhoon Committee appointed Mr YU Jixin (China) as its Secretary replacing Mr Olavo Rasquinho.