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Selected DRR-related Terminology

(based on the 2009 UNISDR Terminology on Disaster Risk Reduction, unless indicated otherwise. Note that this terminology is undergoing a substantial, intergovernmentally agreed review with an updated terminology expected in late 2016)

Acceptable Risk The level of loss a society or community considers acceptable given existing social, economic, political, cultural, technical and environmental conditions
Capacity A combination of all the strengths and resources available within a community, society or organization that can reduce the level of risk, or the effects of a disaster
Disaster A serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society causing widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses which exceed the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources
Exposure Exposure is the total value of elements at-risk. It is expressed as the number of human lives, and value of the properties, that can potentially be affected by hazards. Exposure is a function of the geographic location of the elements [Source: UNDP (2004): Reducing Disaster Risk: a challenge for development. A global report (M. Pelling, A. Maskrey, P. Ruiz, L. Hall, eds.). John S. Swift Co., USA, 146 pp,]
Hazard Potentially damaging physical event that may cause the loss of life or injury, property damage, social and economic disruption or environmental degradation. Hazards can include latent conditions that may represent future threats and can have different origins. Each hazard is characterised by its location, intensity, and probability.
Hazard Analysis Identification, studies and monitoring of any hazard to determine its potential, origin, characteristics and behaviour.
Hydrometeorological Hazards Natural processes or phenomena of atmospheric, hydrological or oceanographic nature, which may cause the loss of life or injury, property damage, social and economic disruption or environmental degradation.
Intensity Physical parameters describing the severity of the hazard. For major hydrometeorological hazard phenomena, standards have been developed by WMO and adopted by 188 Member States for monitoring and reporting of hazard phenomena. [Source: Global Change and Environmental Hazards,[Source: http://www.aag.org/HDGC/ www/hazards/units/unit1/html/unit1frame.html]
Natural Hazards Natural processes or phenomena occurring in the biosphere that may constitute a damaging event.
Probability Likelihood of an event happening. Probability is statistically higher for low-intensity hazards. Probability reflects the future frequency of occurrence of hazard event, and cannot be drawn using historical statistics alone. For hydro-meteorological hazards, probability assessments need to reflect trends related to ongoing evolutions (i.e. climate change, deforestation, etc.) [Source: United Nations University, Comparative Glossary for Core Terms of Disaster Reduction, p.16]
Resilience Capacity to recover the normal functioning and development after being hit by a disaster. A high resilience reduces indirect impacts of disasters, such as business and services interruptions in the aftermath of a disaster.
Risk Probable impacts, expressed in terms of expected loss of lives, people injured, property, livelihoods, economic activity disrupted or environmental damage.
Risk Assessment/Analysis A methodology to determine the nature an extent of risk by analysing potential hazards and evaluating existing conditions of vulnerability that could pose a potential threat or harm to people, property, livelihoods and the environment on which they depend.
Risk Identification The process used to determine what can happen, why and how events arise.
Risk Management The systematic management of administrative decisions, organization, operational skills and capacities to implement policies, strategies and coping capacities of the society and communities to lessen the impacts of natural hazards and related environmental and technological disasters. This comprises all forms of activities, including structural and non-structural measures to avoid (prevention) or to limit (mitigation and preparedness) adverse effects of hazards.
Risk Reduction The conceptual framework of elements considered with the possibilities to minimize vulnerabilities and disaster risks throughout a society, to avoid (prevention) or to limit (mitigation and preparedness) the adverse impacts of hazards, within the broad context of sustainable development.
Risk Transfer Insurance and reinsurance both for physical damage and business interruption, coverage that would provide cash compensation immediately after a disaster.
Vulnerability Physical, social, economic, and environmental factors which increase the susceptibility to be impacted by hazards. Vulnerability engages resistance and resilience.

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