Science and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction

The project aims to accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda through support for interactions-based research and policy prioritization and programming at all levels of governance.

Covering man-made as well as natural hazards, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction expanded the scope of disaster risk reduction to biological, environmental, geological, hydrometeorological and technological hazards and calls for a multi-hazard approach to disaster risk reduction. This reflects the increasingly interconnected risk landscape of today, where hazards occur simultaneously, cascade or cumulate over time, and which demands much better understanding of the underlying interdependencies and amplification of hazards and vulnerabilities.

Global Risks Perceptions Initiative – 2021 report

The unprecedented disruptions emerging as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have drawn attention to the critical importance of global risks around the world. We know that global risks are increasingly complex, uncertain, systemic, and dynamic. To tackle global risks effectively, we need a stronger understanding of the likelihood, impact, and linkages between a wide range of risks.

The 2021 edition of the Global Risks Scientists’ Perceptions survey, conducted in partnership between Future Earth, the International Science Council (ISC), and Sustainability in the Digital Age, is designed to complement the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual Global Risks Report, which reports on the global risk perceptions of leaders from business, economics, and government. This survey will contribute to the discourse that has been shaped through the WEF’s important work with an international analysis of scientists’ perceptions of global risks.

The goal of this survey is to spark dialogue, identify knowledge gaps, and support the growth of a multi-sectoral scientific community working to better understand and provide solutions to global risks. This is a survey of scientists with, at minimum, a Masters degree or equivalent, and respondents will be asked about your experience and level of expertise in evaluating different types of risk. This information will be used to help assess the perceptions of scientists as a group, and the perception of experts on particular types of risk. 

The survey uses the WEF’s definition of global risk, which is “an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, can cause significant negative impact for several countries or industries within the next 10 years”. Respondents will be invited to evaluate the likelihood and potential negative impact of the 35 global risks identified in the WEF Global Risks Report 2021, and to assess their interconnectedness and their potential for leading to a global systemic crisis.


Scientific Advisory Committee

  • Dr. Midori Aoyagi, Principal Researcher, Social and Environmental Systems Division, National Institute for Environmental Studies, Japan
  • Prof. Melody Brown Burkins, Associate Director, The John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding; Adjunct Professor, Environmental Studies, Dartmouth College, USA
  • Dr. Kalpana Chaudhari, Assistant Professor, Shah And Anchor Kutchhi Engineering College; Vice President, Institute for Sustainable Development and Research (ISDR), Mumbai, India
  • Prof. Terrence Forrester, Professor of Experimental Medicine, UWI Solutions for Developing Countries, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica 
  • Prof. Matthias Garschagen, Professor, Department of Geography, Human-Environment Relations, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany
  • Dr. Paul Hudson, Postdoctoral Researcher, Institute for Geography and Environmental Sciences, University of Potsdam, Germany
  • Prof. Maria Ivanova, Associate Professor, Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance, McCormack Graduate School, University of Massachusetts Boston; Director of Center for Governance and Sustainability and Director of the Global Environmental Governance Project, USA
  • Prof. Edward Maibach, University Professor, George Mason University; Director, Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication, USA
  • Prof. Damon Matthews, Professor and Research Chair in Climate Science and Sustainability, Concordia University; Scientific Co-Director, Sustainability in the Digital Age, Canada
  • Anne-Sophie Stevance, Senior Science Officer, International Science Council, France
  • Dr. Sylvia Wood, Lead Scientist for Research and Development, Habitat, Canada

Future Earth & Sustainability in the Digital Age

  • Jennifer Garard
  • Seth Wynes

UNDRR-ISC Technical Working Group on Sendai Hazard Definitions and Classification

This project stems from the partnership agreement between UNDRR and the ISC. Both organisations jointly established in May 2019 a Technical Working Group (TWG) to identify the full scope of hazards relevant to the Sendai Framework and the scientific definitions of these hazards, drawing on the internationally agreed UN definitions and available scientific literature.

Building on existing hazard definitions and other technical expertise in various sectors, the UNDRR-ISC Technical Working Group on Sendai Hazard Definitions and Classification brings together technical experts from relevant science groups, UN agencies, the private sector and other partners to develop comprehensive technical guidance for the full scope of hazards comprised by the Sendai Framework. 

The project’s aim is two-fold:

  • to define the full range of hazards that are encompassed in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, a global framework for action adopted in 2015 by all UN members states which has expanded the scope of disaster risk reduction to biological, environmental, geological, hydrometeorological and technological hazards;
  • to provide a scientific definition of all the hazards identified, drawing mostly on the internationally agreed UN definition and available scientific literature.

Key Milestones

✅ Partnership agreement signed with UNDRR in June 2019 with the hazard definition project as a pilot project for testing the value and modalities of collaboration. 

✅ The work by the Technical Working Group was announced at the 2019 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction and included in Paragraph 14 of the Co-Chairs’ Summary: ‘Experts from science, the United Nations, and the private sector launched a new technical working group to develop a definitions’ list for the Sendai Framework hazards’ UNDRR 2019a).

✅ Throughout 2019 and in the first half of 2020 the Technical Hazards Task Team and the ISC science community continued to provide peer-reviews for the draft report and the hazard definitions, with the finalization of the report in June 2020.

✅ The launch of a new scientific report on hazards definition took place online on 29 July 2020, where Mami Mizutori, Heide Hackmann and Virginia Murray discussed its 6 targeted recommendations.

Hazard Definition & Classification Review: Technical Review

A dedicated technical working group which brought together scientists, technical UN agencies and other experts from the private sector and civil society developed a detailed report including six targeted recommendations.

✅ An online survey for the development of a global science agenda on risk was launched in April 2021.

✅ Publication: Hazard Information Profiles: Supplement to UNDRR-ISC Hazard Definition & Classification Review – Technical Report


Next steps

🟡 A publication on systemic risk


You might also be interested in:

  • Achieving Risk Reduction Across Sendai, Paris And The SDGs –  providing a crucial set of key messages for policy-makers based on the synergies between the major global agreements of the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda with specific reference to systemic and cascading risks
  • Disaster Loss Data In Monitoring The Implementation Of The Sendai Framework – listing seven key policy recommendations, from improving partnerships between intragovernment agencies, academic, private sector, NGOs and insurance authorities to ensuring standardized disaster loss data quantification is adequately able to identify gaps in risk assessment.

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