UNISDR Terminology on DRR

Terminology on DRR

UNISDR develop these basic definitions on disaster risk reduction to promote a common understanding on the subject for use by the public, authorities and practitioners.

The terms are based on a broad consideration of different international sources. Feedback from specialists and other practitioners to improve these definitions will be most welcome.

The following terminology is based on the 2009 version. The terms are now defined by a single sentence. The comments paragraph associated with each term is not part of the definition, but is provided to give additional context, qualification and explanation. It should be noted that the terms are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and in some cases may have overlapping meanings.

UNISDR Terminology on DRR
UNISDR Terminology on DRR
UNISDR Terminology on DRR
UNISDR Terminology on DRR
UNISDR Terminology on DRR
UNISDR Terminology on DRR



People who are affected, either directly or indirectly, by a hazardous event. Directly affected are those who have suffered injury, illness or other health effects; who were evacuated, displaced, relocated or have suffered direct damage to their livelihoods, economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets. Indirectly affected are people who have suffered consequences, other than or in addition to direct effects, over time, due to disruption or changes in economy, critical infrastructure, basic services, commerce or work, or social, health and psychological consequences.

Annotation: People can be affected directly or indirectly. Affected people may experience short-term or long-term consequences to their lives, livelihoods or health and to their economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets. In addition, people who are missing or dead may be considered as directly affected.

02 Feb 2017

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.

02 Feb 2017

Building code

A set of ordinances or regulations and associated standards intended to regulate aspects of the design, construction, materials, alteration and occupancy of structures which are necessary to ensure human safety and welfare, including resistance to collapse and damage.

Annotation: Building codes can include both technical and functional standards. They should incorporate the lessons of international experience and should be tailored to national and local circumstances. A systematic regime of enforcement is a critical supporting requirement for the effective implementation of building codes.

02 Feb 2017


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.

Coping capacity is the ability of people, organizations and systems, using available skills and resources, to manage adverse conditions, risk or disasters. The capacity to cope requires continuing awareness, resources and good management, both in normal times as well as during disasters or adverse conditions. Coping capacities contribute to the reduction of disaster risks.

Capacity assessment is the process by which the capacity of a group, organization or society is reviewed against desired goals, where existing capacities are identified for maintenance or strengthening and capacity gaps are identified for further action.

Capacity development is the process by which people, organizations and society systematically stimulate and develop their capacities over time to achieve social and economic goals. It is a concept that extends the term of capacity-building to encompass all aspects of creating and sustaining capacity growth over time. It involves learning and various types of training, but also continuous efforts to develop institutions, political awareness, financial resources, technology systems and the wider enabling environment.

02 Feb 2017

Contingency planning

A management process that analyses disaster risks and establishes arrangements in advance to enable timely, effective and appropriate responses.

Annotation: Contingency planning results in organized and coordinated courses of action with clearly identified institutional roles and resources, information processes and operational arrangements for specific actors at times of need. Based on scenarios of possible emergency conditions or hazardous events, it allows key actors to envision, anticipate and solve problems that can arise during disasters. Contingency planning is an important part of overall preparedness. Contingency plans need to be regularly updated and exercised.

02 Feb 2017

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.

02 Feb 2017


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.

Emergency is sometimes used interchangeably with the term disaster, as, for example, in the context of biological and technological hazards or health emergencies, which, however, can also relate to hazardous events that do not result in the serious disruption of the functioning of a community or society.

Disaster damage occurs during and immediately after the disaster. This is usually measured in physical units (e.g., square meters of housing, kilometres of roads, etc.), and describes the total or partial destruction of physical assets, the disruption of basic services and damages to sources of livelihood in the affected area.

Disaster impact is the total effect, including negative effects (e.g., economic losses) and positive effects (e.g., economic gains), of a hazardous event or a disaster. The term includes economic, human and environmental impacts, and may include death, injuries, disease and other negative effects on human physical, mental and social well-being.

For the purpose of the scope of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (para. 15), the following terms are also considered:

  • Small-scale disaster: a type of disaster only affecting local communities which require assistance beyond the affected community.
  • Large-scale disaster: a type of disaster affecting a society which requires national or international assistance.
  • Frequent and infrequent disasters: depend on the probability of occurrence and the return period of a given hazard and its impacts. The impact of frequent disasters could be cumulative, or become chronic for a community or a society.
  • A slow-onset disaster is defined as one that emerges gradually over time. Slow-onset disasters could be associated with, e.g., drought, desertification, sea-level rise, epidemic disease.
  • A sudden-onset disaster is one triggered by a hazardous event that emerges quickly or unexpectedly. Sudden-onset disasters could be associated with, e.g., earthquake, volcanic eruption, flash flood, chemical explosion, critical infrastructure failure, transport accident.

02 Feb 2017

Disaster loss database

A set of systematically collected records about disaster occurrence, damages, losses and impacts, compliant with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 monitoring minimum requirements.

02 Feb 2017

Disaster management

The organization, planning and application of measures preparing for, responding to and recovering from disasters.

Annotation: Disaster management may not completely avert or eliminate the threats; it focuses on creating and implementing preparedness and other plans to decrease the impact of disasters and “build back better”. Failure to create and apply a plan could lead to damage to life, assets and lost revenue.

Emergency management is also used, sometimes interchangeably, with the term disaster management, particularly in the context of biological and technological hazards and for health emergencies. While there is a large degree of overlap, an emergency can also relate to hazardous events that do not result in the serious disruption of the functioning of a community or society.

02 Feb 2017

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.

Annotation: 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 therefore an important subterm; 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.

02 Feb 2017

Disaster risk assessment

A qualitative or quantitative approach to determine the nature and extent of disaster risk by analysing potential hazards and evaluating existing conditions of exposure and vulnerability that together could harm people, property, services, livelihoods and the environment on which they depend.

Annotation: Disaster risk assessments include: the identification of hazards; a review of the technical characteristics of hazards such as their location, intensity, frequency and probability; the analysis of exposure and vulnerability, including the physical, social, health, environmental and economic dimensions; and the evaluation of the effectiveness of prevailing and alternative coping capacities with respect to likely risk scenarios.

02 Feb 2017

Disaster risk governance

The system of institutions, mechanisms, policy and legal frameworks and other arrangements to guide, coordinate and oversee disaster risk reduction and related areas of policy.

Annotation: Good governance needs to be transparent, inclusive, collective and efficient to reduce existing disaster risks and avoid creating new ones.

02 Feb 2017

Disaster risk information

Comprehensive information on all dimensions of disaster risk, including hazards, exposure, vulnerability and capacity, related to persons, communities, organizations and countries and their assets.

Annotation: Disaster risk information includes all studies, information and mapping required to understand the disaster risk drivers and underlying risk factors.

02 Feb 2017

Disaster risk management

Disaster risk management is the application of disaster risk reduction policies and strategies to prevent new disaster risk, reduce existing disaster risk and manage residual risk, contributing to the strengthening of resilience and reduction of disaster losses.

Annotation: Disaster risk management actions can be distinguished between prospective disaster risk management, corrective disaster risk management and compensatory disaster risk management, also called residual risk management.

Prospective disaster risk management activities address and seek to avoid the development of new or increased disaster risks. They focus on addressing disaster risks that may develop in future if disaster risk reduction policies are not put in place. Examples are better land-use planning or disaster-resistant water supply systems.

Corrective disaster risk management activities address and seek to remove or reduce disaster risks which are already present and which need to be managed and reduced now. Examples are the retrofitting of critical infrastructure or the relocation of exposed populations or assets.

Compensatory disaster risk management activities strengthen the social and economic resilience of individuals and societies in the face of residual risk that cannot be effectively reduced. They include preparedness, response and recovery activities, but also a mix of different financing instruments, such as national contingency funds, contingent credit, insurance and reinsurance and social safety nets.

Community-based disaster risk management promotes the involvement of potentially affected communities in disaster risk management at the local level. This includes community assessments of hazards, vulnerabilities and capacities, and their involvement in planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of local action for disaster risk reduction.

Local and indigenous peoples’ approach to disaster risk management is the recognition and use of traditional, indigenous and local knowledge and practices to complement scientific knowledge in disaster risk assessments and for the planning and implementation of local disaster risk management.

Disaster risk management plans set out the goals and specific objectives for reducing disaster risks together with related actions to accomplish these objectives. They should be guided by the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015‑2030 and considered and coordinated within relevant development plans, resource allocations and programme activities. National-level plans need to be specific to each level of administrative responsibility and adapted to the different social and geographical circumstances that are present. The time frame and responsibilities for implementation and the sources of funding should be specified in the plan. Linkages to sustainable development and climate change adaptation plans should be made where possible.

02 Feb 2017

Disaster risk reduction

Disaster risk reduction is aimed at preventing new and reducing existing disaster risk and managing residual risk, all of which contribute to strengthening resilience and therefore to the achievement of sustainable development.

Annotation: Disaster risk reduction is the policy objective of disaster risk management, and its goals and objectives are defined in disaster risk reduction strategies and plans.

Disaster risk reduction strategies and policies define goals and objectives across different timescales and with concrete targets, indicators and time frames. In line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, these should be aimed at preventing the creation of disaster risk, the reduction of existing risk and the strengthening of economic, social, health and environmental resilience.

A global, agreed policy of disaster risk reduction is set out in the United Nations endorsed Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, adopted in March 2015, whose expected outcome over the next 15 years is: “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”.

02 Feb 2017

Early warning system

An integrated system of hazard monitoring, forecasting and prediction, disaster risk assessment, communication and preparedness activities systems and processes that enables individuals, communities, governments, businesses and others to take timely action to reduce disaster risks in advance of hazardous events.

Annotations: Effective “end-to-end” and “people-centred” early warning systems may include four interrelated key elements: (1) disaster risk knowledge based on the systematic collection of data and disaster risk assessments; (2) detection, monitoring, analysis and forecasting of the hazards and possible consequences; (3) dissemination and communication, by an official source, of authoritative, timely, accurate and actionable warnings and associated information on likelihood and impact; and (4) preparedness at all levels to respond to the warnings received. These four interrelated components need to be coordinated within and across sectors and multiple levels for the system to work effectively and to include a feedback mechanism for continuous improvement. Failure in one component or a lack of coordination across them could lead to the failure of the whole system.

Multi-hazard early warning systems address several hazards and/or impacts of similar or different type in contexts where hazardous events may occur alone, simultaneously, cascadingly or cumulatively over time, and taking into account the potential interrelated effects. A multi-hazard early warning system with the ability to warn of one or more hazards increases the efficiency and consistency of warnings through coordinated and compatible mechanisms and capacities, involving multiple disciplines for updated and accurate hazards identification and monitoring for multiple hazards.

02 Feb 2017

Economic loss

Total economic impact that consists of direct economic loss and indirect economic loss.

Direct economic loss: the monetary value of total or partial destruction of physical assets existing in the affected area. Direct economic loss is nearly equivalent to physical damage.

Indirect economic loss: a decline in economic value added as a consequence of direct economic loss and/or human and environmental impacts.

Annotations: Examples of physical assets that are the basis for calculating direct economic loss include homes, schools, hospitals, commercial and governmental buildings, transport, energy, telecommunications infrastructures and other infrastructure; business assets and industrial plants; and production such as crops, livestock and production infrastructure. They may also encompass environmental assets and cultural heritage.

Direct economic losses usually happen during the event or within the first few hours after the event and are often assessed soon after the event to estimate recovery cost and claim insurance payments. These are tangible and relatively easy to measure.

Indirect economic loss includes microeconomic impacts (e.g., revenue declines owing to business interruption), mesoeconomic impacts (e.g., revenue declines owing to impacts on natural assets, interruptions to supply chains or temporary unemployment) and macroeconomic impacts (e.g., price increases, increases in government debt, negative impact on stock market prices and decline in GDP). Indirect losses can occur inside or outside of the hazard area and often have a time lag. As a result they may be intangible or difficult to measure.

02 Feb 2017


Moving people and assets temporarily to safer places before, during or after the occurrence of a hazardous event in order to protect them.

Annotation: Evacuation plans refer to the arrangements established in advance to enable the moving of people and assets temporarily to safer places before, during or after the occurrence of a hazardous event. Evacuation plans may include plans for return of evacuees and options to shelter in place.

02 Feb 2017


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.

02 Feb 2017

Extensive disaster risk

The risk of low-severity, high-frequency hazardous events and disasters, mainly but not exclusively associated with highly localized hazards.

Annotation: Extensive disaster risk is usually high where communities are exposed to, and vulnerable to, recurring localized floods, landslides, storms or drought. Extensive disaster risk is often exacerbated by poverty, urbanization and environmental degradation.

02 Feb 2017


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.

Annotations: 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.

Biological hazards are of organic origin or conveyed by biological vectors, including pathogenic microorganisms, toxins and bioactive substances. Examples are bacteria, viruses or parasites, as well as venomous wildlife and insects, poisonous plants and mosquitoes carrying disease-causing agents.

Environmental hazards may include chemical, natural and biological hazards. They can be created by environmental degradation or physical or chemical pollution in the air, water and soil. However, many of the processes and phenomena that fall into this category may be termed drivers of hazard and risk rather than hazards in themselves, such as soil degradation, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, salinization and sea-level rise.

Geological or geophysical hazards originate from internal earth processes. Examples are earthquakes, volcanic activity and emissions, and related geophysical processes such as mass movements, landslides, rockslides, surface collapses and debris or mud flows. Hydrometeorological factors are important contributors to some of these processes. Tsunamis are difficult to categorize: although they are triggered by undersea earthquakes and other geological events, they essentially become an oceanic process that is manifested as a coastal water-related hazard.

Hydrometeorological hazards are of atmospheric, hydrological or oceanographic origin. Examples are tropical cyclones (also known as typhoons and hurricanes); floods, including flash floods; drought; heatwaves and cold spells; and coastal storm surges. Hydrometeorological conditions may also be a factor in other hazards such as landslides, wildland fires, locust plagues, epidemics and in the transport and dispersal of toxic substances and volcanic eruption material.

Technological hazards originate from technological or industrial conditions, dangerous procedures, infrastructure failures or specific human activities. Examples include industrial pollution, nuclear radiation, toxic wastes, dam failures, transport accidents, factory explosions, fires and chemical spills. Technological hazards also may arise directly as a result of the impacts of a natural hazard event.

02 Feb 2017

Hazardous event

The manifestation of a hazard in a particular place during a particular period of time.

Annotation: Severe hazardous events can lead to a disaster as a result of the combination of hazard occurrence and other risk factors.

02 Feb 2017

Intensive disaster risk

The risk of high-severity, mid- to low-frequency disasters, mainly associated with major hazards.

Annotation: Intensive disaster risk is mainly a characteristic of large cities or densely populated areas that are not only exposed to intense hazards such as strong earthquakes, active volcanoes, heavy floods, tsunamis or major storms but also have high levels of vulnerability to these hazards.

02 Feb 2017


The lessening or minimizing of the adverse impacts of a hazardous event.

Annotation: The adverse impacts of hazards, in particular natural hazards, often cannot be prevented fully, but their scale or severity can be substantially lessened by various strategies and actions. Mitigation measures include engineering techniques and hazard-resistant construction as well as improved environmental and social policies and public awareness. It should be noted that, in climate change policy, “mitigation” is defined differently, and is the term used for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that are the source of climate change.

02 Feb 2017

National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction

A generic term for national mechanisms for coordination and policy guidance on disaster risk reduction that are multisectoral and interdisciplinary in nature, with public, private and civil society participation involving all concerned entities within a country.

Annotations: Effective government coordination forums are composed of relevant stakeholders at national and local levels and have a designated national focal point. For such mechanisms to have a strong foundation in national institutional frameworks, further key elements and responsibilities should be established through laws, regulations, standards and procedures, including: clearly assigned responsibilities and authority; building awareness and knowledge of disaster risk through the sharing and dissemination of non-sensitive disaster risk information and data; contributing to and coordinating reports on local and national disaster risk; coordinating public awareness campaigns on disaster risk; facilitating and supporting local multisectoral cooperation (e.g., among local governments); and contributing to the determination of and reporting on national and local disaster risk management plans and all policies relevant for disaster risk management.

02 Feb 2017


The knowledge and capacities developed by governments, response and recovery organizations, communities and individuals to effectively anticipate, respond to and recover from the impacts of likely, imminent or current disasters.

Annotation: Preparedness action is carried out within the context of disaster risk management and aims to build the capacities needed to efficiently manage all types of emergencies and achieve orderly transitions from response to sustained recovery.

Preparedness is based on a sound analysis of disaster risks and good linkages with early warning systems, and includes such activities as contingency planning, the stockpiling of equipment and supplies, the development of arrangements for coordination, evacuation and public information, and associated training and field exercises. These must be supported by formal institutional, legal and budgetary capacities. The related term “readiness” describes the ability to quickly and appropriately respond when required.

A preparedness plan establishes arrangements in advance to enable timely, effective and appropriate responses to specific potential hazardous events or emerging disaster situations that might threaten society or the environment.

02 Feb 2017


Activities and measures to avoid existing and new disaster risks.

Annotations: Prevention (i.e., disaster prevention) expresses the concept and intention to completely avoid potential adverse impacts of hazardous events. While certain disaster risks cannot be eliminated, prevention aims at reducing vulnerability and exposure in such contexts where, as a result, the risk of disaster is removed. Examples include dams or embankments that eliminate flood risks, land-use regulations that do not permit any settlement in high-risk zones, seismic engineering designs that ensure the survival and function of a critical building in any likely earthquake and immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases. Prevention measures can also be taken during or after a hazardous event or disaster to prevent secondary hazards or their consequences, such as measures to prevent the contamination of water.

16 Feb 2017


The medium- and long-term rebuilding and sustainable restoration of resilient critical infrastructures, services, housing, facilities and livelihoods required for the full functioning of a community or a society affected by a disaster, aligning with the principles of sustainable development and “build back better”, to avoid or reduce future disaster risk.

02 Feb 2017


The restoring or improving of livelihoods and health, as well as economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets, systems and activities, of a disaster-affected community or society, aligning with the principles of sustainable development and “build back better”, to avoid or reduce future disaster risk.

02 Feb 2017


The restoration of basic services and facilities for the functioning of a community or a society affected by a disaster.

02 Feb 2017

Residual risk

The disaster risk that remains in unmanaged form, even when effective disaster risk reduction measures are in place, and for which emergency response and recovery capacities must be maintained.

Annotation: 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.

02 Feb 2017


The ability of a system, community or society exposed to hazards to resist, absorb, accommodate, 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.

02 Feb 2017


Actions taken directly before, during or immediately after a disaster in order to save lives, reduce health impacts, ensure public safety and meet the basic subsistence needs of the people affected.

Annotation: Disaster response is predominantly focused on immediate and short-term needs and is sometimes called disaster relief. Effective, efficient and timely response relies on disaster risk-informed preparedness measures, including the development of the response capacities of individuals, communities, organizations, countries and the international community.

The institutional elements of response often include the provision of emergency services and public assistance by public and private sectors and community sectors, as well as community and volunteer participation. “Emergency services” are a critical set of specialized agencies that have specific responsibilities in serving and protecting people and property in emergency and disaster situations. They include civil protection authorities and police and fire services, among many others. The division between the response stage and the subsequent recovery stage is not clear-cut. Some response actions, such as the supply of temporary housing and water supplies, may extend well into the recovery stage.

02 Feb 2017


Reinforcement or upgrading of existing structures to become more resistant and resilient to the damaging effects of hazards.

Annotation: Retrofitting requires consideration of the design and function of the structure, the stresses that the structure may be subject to from particular hazards or hazard scenarios and the practicality and costs of different retrofitting options. Examples of retrofitting include adding bracing to stiffen walls, reinforcing pillars, adding steel ties between walls and roofs, installing shutters on windows and improving the protection of important facilities and equipment.

02 Feb 2017

Risk transfer

The process of formally or informally 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.

Annotation: Insurance is a well-known form of risk transfer, where coverage of a risk is obtained from an insurer in exchange for ongoing premiums paid to the insurer. Risk transfer can occur informally within family and community networks where there are reciprocal expectations of mutual aid by means of gifts or credit, as well as formally, wherein governments, insurers, multilateral banks and other large risk-bearing entities establish mechanisms to help cope with losses in major events. Such mechanisms include insurance and reinsurance contracts, catastrophe bonds, contingent credit facilities and reserve funds, where the costs are covered by premiums, investor contributions, interest rates and past savings, respectively.

02 Feb 2017

Structural and non-structural measures

Structural measures are any physical construction to reduce or avoid possible impacts of hazards, or the application of engineering techniques or technology to achieve hazard resistance and resilience in structures or systems. Non-structural measures are measures not involving physical construction which use knowledge, practice or agreement to reduce disaster risks and impacts, in particular through policies and laws, public awareness raising, training and education.

Annotation: Common structural measures for disaster risk reduction include dams, flood levies, ocean wave barriers, earthquake-resistant construction and evacuation shelters. Common non-structural measures include building codes, land-use planning laws and their enforcement, research and assessment, information resources and public awareness programmes. Note that in civil and structural engineering, the term “structural” is used in a more restricted sense to mean just the load-bearing structure, and other parts such as wall cladding and interior fittings are termed “non-structural”.

02 Feb 2017

Underlying disaster risk drivers

Processes or conditions, often development-related, that influence the level of disaster risk by increasing levels of exposure and vulnerability or reducing capacity.

Annotation: 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.

02 Feb 2017


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.

Annotation: For positive factors which increase the ability of people to cope with hazards, see also the definitions of “Capacity” and “Coping capacity”.

02 Feb 2017

The Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction took place in 2015 The Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction took place in 2015.
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