Deliberate perturbation in the natural order of the things and undermines the status quo to radically expand and enhance the topic under consideration.

Source: Wamsler et al 2014

Mitigation (of climate change)

A human intervention to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases (GHGs) [and] human interventions to reduce the sources of other substances which may contribute directly or indirectly to limiting climate change, including, for example, the reduction of particulate matter emissions that can directly alter the radiation balance (e.g., black carbon) or measures that control emissions of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, Volatile Organic Compounds and other pollutants that can alter the concentration of tropospheric ozone which has an indirect effect on the climate.

Source: IPCC 2013


Person or group of people that has its own functions with responsibilities, authorities and relationships to achieve its objectives

Note: The concept of organisation includes, but is not limited to sole-trader, company, corporation, firm, enterprise, authority, partnership, charity or institution, or part or combination thereof, whether incorporated or not, public or private.

Source: ISO 14001:2015, 3.1.4

Outcome Vulnerability

Vulnerability as the end point of a sequence of analyses beginning with projections of future emission trends, moving on to the development of climate scenarios, and concluding with biophysical impact studies and the identification of adaptive options. Any residual consequences that remain after adaptation has taken place define the levels of vulnerability.

Source: IPCC 2014

Passive Measure

It is a type of measure which does not use energy once it has been implemented. It is normally refers to adaptation measures for buildings indoor environments.

Source: Van Hoof et al 2014

Pluvial Flooding

Occurs when heavy rainfall overwhelms the drainage capacity of the local area. It is difficult to predict and pinpoint, much more so than fluvial or coastal flooding. Can also be called surface water flooding.

Source: The Environment Agency, 2011.

Probabilistic Climate Projections

These are projections of future absolute climate that assign a probability level to different climate outcomes. This projection provides an absolute value for the future climate (as opposed to giving values that are relative to a baseline period) that assign a probability level to different climate outcomes.

Source: Adapted from the UK Met Office 2014


The restoration, and improvement where appropriate, of facilities, livelihoods and living conditions of disaster-affected communities, including efforts to reduce disaster risk factors.

Source: UNISDR 2009


Property of consistent intended behaviour and results.

Source: ISO/IEC 27000:2014


The capacity of a social-ecological system to cope with a hazardous event or disturbance, responding or reorganizing in ways that maintain its essential function, identity, and structure, while also maintaining the capacity for adaptation, learning, and transformation (Arctic Council, 2013).

Source: IPCC 2014

The ability to function, survive, and thrive no matter what stresses happen and to skilfully prepare for, respond to, and manage a crisis. Finally, it should include the ability to return to normal operations as quickly as possible after a disruption.

Source: NIAC 2009

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

Source: UNISDR 2009


The potential for consequences where something of value is at stake and where the outcome is uncertain, recognizing the diversity of values. Risk is often represented as probability of occurrence of hazardous events or trends multiplied by the impacts if these events or trends occur. Risk results from the interaction of vulnerability, exposure, and hazard.

Source: IPCC 2014

effect of uncertainty on objectives

Note 1: An effect is a deviation from the expected. It can be positive, negative or both. An effect can arise as a result of a response, or failure to respond, to an opportunity or to a threat related to objectives.

Note 2: Objectives can have different aspects and categories, and can be applied at different levels.

Note 3: Risk is usually expressed in terms of risk sources, potential events, their consequences and their likelihood.

Note 4: In the context of climate change risk is often represented as probability or likelihood of occurrence of hazardous events or trends multiplied by the impacts if these events or trends occur.

Source: Modified from ISO(FDIS) 31000:2017; IPCC, 2014 (Note 4)


A plausible description of how the future may develop based on a coherent and internally consistent set of assumptions about key driving forces (e.g. rate of technological change, prices) and relationships.

Source: IPCC 2013


The degree to which a system or species is affected, either adversely or beneficially, by climate variability or change. The effect may be direct … or indirect.

Source: Adapted from IPCC 2014

Social Infrastructure (Institutional)

The social infrastructure includes the humans, organizations and governments that make decisions and form our economy as well as our institutions and policies.

Source: Chappin and van der Lei 2014

Social Infrastructure (Physical)

Schools, hospitals, shopping or cultural facilities.

Source: Unpublished working glossary of UP KRITIS and BSI, 2014


Person or organization that can affect, be affected by, or perceive themselves to be affected by a decision or activity

Note: A decision maker can be a stakeholder.

Source: Adapted from: ISO 31000:2009

Stressor (climate and non-climate)

A climate stressor is a condition, event, or trend related to climate variability and change that can exacerbate hazards. Increasing frequency and intensity of drought conditions can be a climate stressor for forests and crops. Rising sea level is another climate stressor.

A non-climate stressor is a change or trend unrelated to climate that can exacerbate hazards. Altering drainage patterns and replacing open land with roads and buildings are non-climate stressors for flooding hazards. Population growth along exposed coasts is another non-climate stressor.

Source: US Climate Resilience Toolkit 2017


The likelihood of occurrence of a hazard or event with a harmful effect. In contrast to risk, a threat is not related to the impact it may cause.

Source: CIPedia© 2015

Transformative Adaptation

Adaptation that changes the fundamental attributes of a system in response to climate and its effects.

Source: IPCC 2014


A state of incomplete knowledge that can result from a lack of information or from disagreement about what is known or even knowable.

Source: IPCC 2014

Urban (Urban Area)

Urban ‘is a function of (1) sheer population size, (2) space (land area), (3) the ratio of population to space (density or concentration), and (4) economic and social organization.’

Source: Weeks 2010

The OECD-EU classification identifies functional urban areas beyond city boundaries, to reflect the economic geography of where people live and work... Defining urban areas as functional economic units can better guide the way national and city governments plan infrastructure, transportation, housing and schools, space for culture and recreation.

Source: OECD 2012

Urban Critical Infrastructure

An asset, system or part thereof located in an urban area which is essential for the maintenance of vital societal functions, health, safety, security, economic or social well-being of people, and the disruption or destruction of which would have a significant impact in an urban area as a result of the failure to maintain those functions.

Source: Adapted from Council Directive 2008/114/EC

Urban Critical Infrastructure System

Urban critical infrastructure from a systemic viewpoint. It is part of the urban system and simultaneously part of the national critical infrastructure system.

Source: Rome et al 2015

Urban Heat Island

An urban heat island is a manmade area that’s significantly warmer than the surrounding countryside — especially at night.

Source: Met Office 2012

Urban System

System of urban areas (Urban settlements from a systemic viewpoint).

Source: Rome et al 2015


The propensity or predisposition to be adversely affected. Vulnerability encompasses a variety of concepts including sensitivity or susceptibility to harm and lack of capacity to cope and adapt.

Note: Please see contextual vulnerability and outcome vulnerability.

Source: IPCC 2014

Intrinsic properties of something resulting in susceptibility to a risk source that can lead to an event with a consequence.

Source: CIPedia© 2015

Weakness of an asset or control that can be exploited by one or more threats.

Source: ISO/IEC 27000: 2014

Vulnerability Index

A metric characterizing the vulnerability of a system. A climate vulnerability index is typically derived by combining, with or without weighting, several indicators assumed to represent vulnerability.

Source: IPCC 2014

Wicked Problem

A problem that is categorized by a great number of uncertainties. These include: on the stakeholders involved, the boundaries of the problem, long term organisational developments and responsibilities, amongst others.

Source: Adapted from Wijnmalen et al 2015. Please also see Rittel and Webber 1973