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, calling on a multi-hazard approach to disaster risk reduction.

The new working group, co-facilitated by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and the International Science Council (ISC), is tasked with developing new hazard definitions and classifications, and seeks input from stakeholders to ensure the list is robust, and reflects the full spectrum of local and regional terminology

Sendai Hazard Definitions and Classification Review


The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (the Sendai Framework), is the first of the global agreements adopted in 2015 providing a common agenda for all UN countries to reduce disaster risks with a focus on understanding and preventing the creation of risks, with seven targets and four priorities for action. It was endorsed by the UN General Assembly following the 2015 Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR).

The ISC, through its membership, research programme on Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR), the Knowledge Action Network for Emergent Risk and Extreme Events (Risk KAN) and the Committee on Data (CODATA), has a vital role to play in ensuring that the natural and social sciences are part of the solution to disaster risk reduction.

The scope of the Sendai Framework encompasses a range of natural, technological, biological and environmental hazards. Therefore, there is a need to provide a set of scientific definitions of hazards to enable countries and their partners to implement disaster risk management and to report against the Sendai Framework targets. Whilst the current Integrated Research on Disaster Risk’s publication Peril Classification and Hazard Glossary covers a range of natural and biological hazards, it is time to review and develop an updated document to address the broadened hazard scope of the Sendai Framework.

The outcomes of this initiative will directly contribute to the Sendai Framework which calls for the science and technology community to:

“Strengthen technical and scientific capacity to capitalize on and consolidate existing knowledge and to develop and apply methodologies and models to assess disaster risks, vulnerabilities and exposure to all hazards.”

A common set of definitions will also support a range of global and regional initiatives, including the Global Risk Assessment Framework, (GRAF) and build on the Report of the open-ended intergovernmental expert working group on indicators and terminology relating to disaster risk reduction. It will feed into the deliberations of the GRAF and other initiatives, such as the Integrated Prevention Platform of the UN Secretary-General, to build knowledge and understanding of risk and resilience for the attainment of the Sendai Framework, Paris Climate Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other related frameworks.

Accordingly, a technical working paper will be developed by the end of 2019 with the aim of providing a scientific list of definitions for hazards encompassed by the Sendai Framework.

This exercise will draw upon existing scientific definitions, and if necessary, develop new definitions for specific hazards.

The UNDRR and the International Science Council, with the scientific leadership of IRDR have initiated the process of developing the working paper. Science partners and experts including representatives of the IRDR programme, CODATA, the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and Future Earth through the Risk KAN, as well as a number of UN agencies, and the insurance sector, will be invited to provide inputs to this process.

Initial discussions took place during the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva,in May 2019.


Following the meeting in Geneva, the consultation process continues with the Review Task Team and the DRR community, with regular meetings leading up to the publication of the final report.

The committee is chaired by Professor Virginia Murray, Head of Global Disaster Risk Reduction with Public Health England, United Kingdom.

For more information, please

For further reading, please also see the ISC’s two policy briefs relating to Disaster Risk Reduction:

  1. Achieving Risk Reduction Across Sendai, Paris And The SDGs: click here
  2. Disaster Loss Data In Monitoring The Implementation Of The Sendai Framework: click here

Photo credit: Phong Tran / IRIN


Peril Classification and Hazard Glossary

Achieving Risk Reduction Across Sendai, Paris And The SDGs

Disaster Loss Data In Monitoring The Implementation Of The Sendai Framework

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