The Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE – renamed as ESCAP) at its 20th session recommended that the its secretariat, in cooperation with WMO, to study practical means of initiating a joint programme of investigations of typhoons in the ECAFE region.
A meeting of experts on Typhoon was organized by ECAFE and WMO with financial assistance from UNDP Manila. This was attended by experts from China, Hong Kong, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Laos, Philippines, Republic of Viet Nam, Thailand and the USA. The Group recommended that a preparatory mission on typhoons be organized to visit the countries in the ECAFE region and neighbouring countries, which are affected by typhoons in order to formulate an action programme, which would mitigate typhoon damage.
December1966 – February 1967
The ECAFE/WMO Preparatory Mission on Typhoons was organized during this period with financial assistance from UNDP. The mission visited the Philippines, Hong Kong, China, Republic of Korea, Japan, Guam, Laos, Republic of Viet Nam, Cambodia and Thailand. Recommendations of the mission under:
- the meteorological component were concerned with the requirements for the improvement of existing meteorological observing networks, telecommunication facilities, typhoon forecasts and arrangements for warning;
- the hydrological aspect described the requirements for the improvement of the existing or establishment of pilot flood forecasting and warning system on a key river basin in each of the countries visited;
- the third aspect dealt with the establishment of a Regional Typhoon Centre.
The Second meeting of experts on Typhoons was held at Bangkok and was attended by representatives from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Republic of Korea, Laos, Philippines, Thailand, USA, and USSR. The meeting examined the report of the Preparatory Mission and reiterated the need for early action to mitigate typhoon damage as a means of speeding economic development in the region. It further reaffirmed that national as well as joint efforts were necessary to combat effectively the detrimental effect of typhoons; therefore, regional co-operation was of paramount importance in solving common problems associated with typhoons. It agreed that there was a need for comprehensive measures (data collection, analysis, forecasts, dissemination of warnings) in an integrated approach to deal effectively with the typhoon problem.
To facilitate the expeditious implementation of the programme, it was considered necessary to establish a regional inter-governmental body to promote and coordinate activities relating to typhoon damage control. Accordingly it recommended that:
- a Typhoon Committee with a Regional Typhoon Centre as its executive arm be established under the auspices of ECAFE in co-operation with WMO;
- the ECAFE and WMO secretariats draft jointly the statute and rules of procedure of the proposed Typhoon Committee and convene an ad hoc meeting of government representatives to consider and finalize these drafts.
The ad hoc meeting on the statute of the Typhoon Committee was held in Bangkok and attended by government representatives from the Philippines, Thailand, the Republic of Viet Nam and Hong Kong. Representatives from USA and USSR also attended as observers. The meeting also recommended that:
- the statute they had finalized and adopted be submitted to the 24th Commission session of ECAFE and the appropriate body of WMO for their consideration.
- ECAFE and WMO provide as soon as possible a small staff to undertake the preparatory work required for the implementation of the programme recommended by the mission.
The United Nations ECAFE at its 24th session in Canberra endorsed the establishment of the Typhoon Committee in accordance with the statute as adopted by the ad hoc meeting. In a parallel action, the WMO Executive Committee at its 20th session held in Geneva in 1968 also endorsed the establishment of the Typhoon Committee.
After China, Hong Kong, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Laos, the Philippines and Thailand had signified their intention to join the Typhoon Committee, the Executive Secretary of ECAFE and the Secretary-General of WMO considered it appropriate to establish an ECAFE/WMO Joint Unit on Typhoons, located at the ECAFE secretariat, to assist and coordinate activities of the Typhoon Committee.
December 1968 (1st Session of the Typhoon Committee)
The Inaugural Session of the Typhoon Committee was held in Bangkok, in December 1968, almost three years after its conception. In this session the administrative heads of the sponsoring U.N. agencies, ECAFE and WMO addressed the opening ceremony.