Anything unclear?

This Glossary hopes to comprehensively summarize and define all terminology used on this website. If anything is left unclear, please reach out to us (, we are happy to answer your questions.

Adaptation to climate change (CCA)

"Human-driven adjustments in ecological, social or economic systems or policy processes, in response to actual or expected climate stimuli and their effects or impacts. Various types of adaptation can be distinguished, including anticipatory and reactive adaptation, private and public adaptation, and autonomous and planned adaptation. Maladaptation refers to any changes in natural or human systems that inadvertently increase vulnerability to climatic stimuli; maladaptation does not succeed in reducing vulnerability but increases it instead." (UNFCCC Glossary of key terms)

Agenda Coherence

This term stands for the appropriate, concerted approach of government actors on all levels and in all sectors for implementing the global post-2015 agendas in order to achieve their goals more effectively and more efficiently.

Build back better

The use of the recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction phases after a disaster to increase the resilience of nations and communities through integrating disaster risk reduction measures into the restoration of physical infrastructure and societal systems, and into the revitalization of livelihoods, economies and the environment. Annotation: The term “societal” will not be interpreted as a political system of any country. (UNDRR terminology)


The combination of all the strengths, attributes and resources available within an organization, community or society to manage and reduce disaster risks and strengthen resilience. Annotation: Capacity may include infrastructure, institutions, human knowledge and skills, and collective attributes such as social relationships, leadership and management. (UNDRR terminology)

Critical Infrastructure

"The physical structures, facilities, networks and other assets which provide services that are essential to the social and economic functioning of a community or society." (UNDRR terminology)


"A serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society at any scale due to hazardous events interacting with conditions of exposure, vulnerability and capacity, leading to one or more of the following: human, material, economic and environmental losses and impacts. Annotations: The effect of the disaster can be immediate and localized, but is often widespread and could last for a long period of time. The effect may test or exceed the capacity of a community or society to cope using its own resources, and therefore may require assistance from external sources, which could include neighbouring jurisdictions, or those at the national or international levels." (UNDRR terminology)

Disaster risk

"The potential loss of life, injury, or destroyed or damaged assets which could occur to a system, society or a community in a specific period of time, determined probabilistically as a function of hazard, exposure, vulnerability and capacity. The definition of disaster risk reflects the concept of hazardous events and disasters as the outcome of continuously present conditions of risk. Disaster risk comprises different types of potential losses which are often difficult to quantify. Nevertheless, with knowledge of the prevailing hazards and the patterns of population and socioeconomic development, disaster risks can be assessed and mapped, in broad terms at least. It is important to consider the social and economic contexts in which disaster risks occur and that people do not necessarily share the same perceptions of risk and their underlying risk factors. Acceptable risk or tolerable risk, is the extent to which a disaster risk is deemed acceptable or tolerable depends on existing social, economic, political, cultural, technical and environmental conditions. In engineering terms, acceptable risk is also used to assess and define the structural and non-structural measures that are needed in order to reduce possible harm to people, property, services and systems to a chosen tolerated level, according to codes or “accepted practice” which are based on known probabilities of hazards and other factors. Residual risk is the disaster risk that remains even when effective disaster risk reduction measures are in place, and for which emergency response and recovery capacities must be maintained. The presence of residual risk implies a continuing need to develop and support effective capacities for emergency services, preparedness, response and recovery, together with socioeconomic policies such as safety nets and risk transfer mechanisms, as part of a holistic approach.​​​​​​​" (UNDRR terminology)

Disaster Risk Management (DRM)

Disaster Risk Management is a continuous process that involves physical and non-physical measures and takes account of the underlying risk factors within a soceity. Disaster risk management aims to avoid the generation of new risks, improves resilience to the effects of natural events and contributes to sustainable development. (BMZ, based on IPCC 2012)


"The situation of people, infrastructure, housing, production capacities and other tangible human assets located in hazard-prone areas. Annotation: Measures of exposure can include the number of people or types of assets in an area. These can be combined with the specific vulnerability and capacity of the exposed elements to any particular hazard to estimate the quantitative risks associated with that hazard in the area of interest." (UNDRR terminology)

Global Initative on Disaster Risk Management (GIDRM)

A project commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).


"A process, phenomenon or human activity that may cause loss of life, injury or other health impacts, property damage, social and economic disruption or environmental degradation. Hazards may be natural, anthropogenic or socionatural in origin. Natural hazards are predominantly associated with natural processes and phenomena. Anthropogenic hazards, or human-induced hazards, are induced entirely or predominantly by human activities and choices. This term does not include the occurrence or risk of armed conflicts and other situations of social instability or tension which are subject to international humanitarian law and national legislation. Several hazards are socionatural, in that they are associated with a combination of natural and anthropogenic factors, including environmental degradation and climate change. Hazards may be single, sequential or combined in their origin and effects. Each hazard is characterized by its location, intensity or magnitude, frequency and probability. Biological hazards are also defined by their infectiousness or toxicity, or other characteristics of the pathogen such as dose-response, incubation period, case fatality rate and estimation of the pathogen for transmission. Multi-hazard means (1) the selection of multiple major hazards that the country faces, and (2) the specific contexts where hazardous events may occur simultaneously, cascadingly or cumulatively over time, and taking into account the potential interrelated effects. Hazards include (as mentioned in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, and listed in alphabetical order) biological, environmental, geological, hydrometeorological and technological processes and phenomena."​​​​​ (UNDRR terminology)


The ability of a system, community or society exposed to hazards to resist, absorb, accomodate, adapt to, transform and recover from the effects of a hazard in a timely and efficient manner, including through the preservation and restoration of its essential basic structures and functions through risk management. (UNDRR/terminology)

Risk-informed development (RID)

Risk-informed development is a risk-based decision process that enables understanding of multiple concurrent threats and complex risks to and arising from development decisions and acting on that knowledge. [...] Risk-informed development allows for development to become a vehicle to reduce risk, avoid creating risks and build resilience. [...] An RID process uses risk-based decision frameworks to help guide assessments of complex threats and risks, opportunities, uncertainties and options when making a development decision. Most critically, it pushes development decision-makers to understand and acknowledge that all development choices involve trade-offs – the creation of uncertain risks and opportunities. (UNDP/ODI)

Risk driver

"Processes or conditions, often development-related, that influence the level of disaster risk by increasing levels of exposure and vulnerability or reducing capacity. Underlying disaster risk drivers — also referred to as underlying disaster risk factors — include poverty and inequality, climate change and variability, unplanned and rapid urbanization and the lack of disaster risk considerations in land management and environmental and natural resource management, as well as compounding factors such as demographic change, non disaster risk-informed policies, the lack of regulations and incentives for private disaster risk reduction investment, complex supply chains, the limited availability of technology, unsustainable uses of natural resources, declining ecosystems, pandemics and epidemics. The presence of residual risk implies a continuing need to develop and support effective capacities for emergency services, preparedness, response and recovery, together with socioeconomic policies such as safety nets and risk transfer mechanisms, as part of a holistic approach." (UNDRR terminology)

Risk transfer

The process of shifting the financial consequences of particular risks from one party to another, whereby a household, community, enterprise or state authority will obtain resources from the other party after a disaster occurs, in exchange for ongoing or compensatory social or financial benefits provided to that other party. (UNDRR/ terminology)

Sendai Framework

The Sendai Framework is a 15-year, voluntary, non-binding agreement which recognizes that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders. It aims for the following outcome: The substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries.


The conditions determined by physical, social, economic and environmental factors or processes which increase the susceptibility of an individual, a community, assets or systems to the impacts of hazards. For positive factors which increase the ability of people to cope with hazards, see also the definitions of “Capacity” and “Coping capacity”. (UNDRR terminology)