Disaster Risk Reduction

ISC, and its predecessor ICSU, have a long history of involvement in the coordination of international research on disaster risk.


In 2008, the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk Programme (IRDR) was created, which commenced operation in 2010 and builds upon decades of work by ISC’s GeoUnion members. Both UNISDR & ISSC are co-sponsors. The creation of IRDR stemmed from the recognition that there is a need for interdisciplinary science to address the most pressing problems in the field.

Based on its track-record at the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development, ICSU in 2014 was invited by Margareta Wahlström, head of UNISDR, to coordinate and represent the science & technology community in preparations for the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, Sendai, March 2015. This conference adopted a new global post-2015 agreement, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction – to follow up on the 2005 Hyogo Framework for Action.

ICSU advocated for a strong science base for this framework, including at the two meetings of the conference’s Preparatory Committee, held on 14-15 July and 17-18 November 2014 in Geneva. The Sendai Framework, adopted at the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, contains a strong recognition of the importance of science in the DRR field, and offers many avenues for the scientific community to help implement the framework in the coming years.

ISC is now working closely with IRDR and the wider scientific community working on hazards and disasters to boost integrated science that responds to the priorities of the Sendai Framework and support the uptake of science in the policy and practice communities. Examples of our recent activities include a strong presence at the 2017 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (22-26 May 2017, Cancún) including through a series of policy briefs, identification of key areas for collaboration and knowledge gaps across the IRDR, Future Earth and WCRP programmes, partnership with the Science Council of Japan, UNISDR (now UNDRR) and others for the organisation of a Global Forum on Science and Technology for Disaster Resilience 2017 in November 2017 in Japan.


The Sendai Hazard Definitions and Classification Review was launched in May 2019.

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.

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