Hazards Definition and Classification

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.

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. 

Anticipated impact

  • 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

✅ In March 2022, the ISC, UNDRR and Risk KAN released a briefing note on Systemic Risk, underlining that the systemic and uncertain risks facing the world today can have cascading impacts across systems and sectors, and an integrated perspective that incorporates the inherently complex nature of climate-related hazards, vulnerability, exposure and impacts, is needed to better understand and respond to systemic risk.

Systemic risk briefing note cover

Systemic Risk

Sillmann, J., Christensen, I., Hochrainer-Stigler, S., Huang-Lachmann, J., Juhola, S., Kornhuber, K., Mahecha, M., Mechler, R., Reichstein, M., Ruane, A.C., Schweizer, P.-J. and Williams, S. 2022. ISC-UNDRR-RISK KAN Briefing note on systemic risk, Paris, France, International Science Council, https://doi.org/10.24948/2022.01

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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