RESIN Glossary


Adaptation (to climate change)

The process of adjustment to actual or expected climate, and its effects. See also Autonomous Adaptation, Evolutionary Adaptation, Incremental Adaptation and Transformative Adaptation.

Source: IPCC 2014

Adaptation Assessment

The practice of identifying options to adapt to climate change and evaluating them, in terms of criteria such as availability, (co-) benefits, costs, effectiveness, efficiency and feasibility.

Source: IPCC 2014

Adaptation Options

The array of strategies and measures that are available and appropriate for addressing adaptation needs. They include a wide range of actions that can be categorized as structural, institutional, or social.

Source: IPCC 2014

Adaptation Pathways

See Climate Resilient Pathways

Adaptation Strategies

[Adaptation Strategies] include a mix of policies and measures with the overarching objective of reducing vulnerability. Depending on the circumstances, the strategy can be set at a national level, addressing adaptation across sectors, regions and vulnerable populations, or it can be more limited, focusing on just one or two sectors or regions.

Source: IPCC 2014 

Adaptive capacity (or adaptability)

The ability of systems, institutions, humans, and other organisms to adjust to potential damage, to take advantage of opportunities, or to respond to consequences.

Source: IPCC 2014 

Autonomous Adaptation

Adaptation in response to experienced climate and its effects, without planning explicitly or consciously focused on addressing climate change. Also referred to as spontaneous adaptation.

Source: IPCC 2014


state against which change is measured

Source: IPCC 2014

Blue Infrastructure

See Green Infrastructure

Built environment

collection of man-made or induced physical objects located in a particular area or region
Note 1 to entry: When treated as a whole, the built environment typically is taken to include buildings, external works and other construction works.

Source: ISO 15392:2008

Cascading Effects

A sequence of events in which each one produces the circumstances necessary for the initiation of the next. See also Consequence Analysis.

Source: Allaby 2004

A sequence of events in which each individual event is the cause of the following event; all the events can be traced back to one and the same initial event.

Source: Rome et al. 2015


Climate in a narrow sense is usually defined as the average weather, or more rigorously, as the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years. The classical period for averaging these variables is 30 years, as defined by the World Meteorological Organization.

Source: IPCC 2013

Change in the state of the climate that can be identified by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties, and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer.

Source: ISO 6707-3:2017(en) Buildings and civil engineering works — Vocabulary — Part 3: Sustainability terms

Climate Change

Climate change refers to a change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e.g., by using statistical tests) by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties, and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer.

Source: IPCC 2013

Climate change adaptation

Process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects.

Source: Fifth Assessment Report (AR5): Climate Change 2014, Fifth Assessment Report (AR5): Climate Change 2014, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2014, modified — Note 1 and 2 to entry have been added

Note 1 to entry: In human systems, adaptation seeks to moderate or avoid harm or exploit beneficial opportunities.

Note 2 to entry: In some natural systems, human intervention may facilitate adjustment to expected climate and its effects.

Climate Projection

A climate projection is the simulated response of the climate system to a scenario of future emission or concentration of greenhouse gases and aerosols, generally derived using climate models.

Source: IPCC 2013

Climate Model

A numerical representation of the climate system based on the physical, chemical and biological properties of its components, their interactions and feedback processes, and accounting for some of its known properties.

Source: IPCC 2013

Climate Resilient Pathways

Iterative processes for managing change within complex systems in order to reduce disruptions and enhance opportunities associated with climate change.

Source: IPCC 2013

…an iterative and ongoing approach, informed by a strategic vision, that enables experimentation and learning so that choices along pathways can be altered in response to predefined triggers.

Source: Wise et al. 2014

Climate System

A numerical representation of the climate system based on the physical, chemical and biological properties of its components, their interactions and feedback processes, and accounting for some of its known properties.

Source: IPCC 2013

Coastal flooding

A coastal flood is when the coast is flooded by the sea. The cause of such a surge is a severe storm. The storm wind pushes the water up and creates high waves.

FLOODsite 2008


The positive effects that a policy or measure aimed at one objective might have on other objectives, irrespective of the net effect on overall social welfare. Co-benefits are often subject to uncertainty and depend on local circumstances and implementation practices, among other factors. Co-benefits are also referred to as ancillary benefits.

Source: Allaby 2004


The outcome of an event affecting objectives.

Source: ISO/IEC 27000: 2014 and ISO 310000: 2009

Consequence Analysis

Consequence Analysis is estimation of the effect of potential hazardous events.

Source: Australian Emergency Management Glossary (1998)

Contextual Vulnerability

A present inability to cope with external pressures or changes, such as changing climate conditions. Contextual vulnerability is a characteristic of social and ecological systems generated by multiple factors and processes.

Source: IPCC 2014

Coping Capacity

The ability of people, institutions, organizations, and systems, using available skills, values, beliefs, resources, and opportunities, to address, manage, and overcome adverse conditions in the short to medium term.

Source: IPCC 2014

The ability of people, organizations and systems, using available skills and resources, to face and manage adverse conditions, emergencies or disasters.

Source: UNISDR 2009

Critical Infrastructure (CI)

An asset, system or part thereof located in Member States 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 a Member State as a result of the failure to maintain those functions.

Source: European Commission: Council Directive 2008/114/EC

Organizations and facilities that are essential for the functioning of society and the economy as a whole.

Source: ISO/IEC TR 27019:2013

Critical Infrastructure (CI) Dependency

CI dependency is the relationship between two (critical infrastructure) products or services in which one product or service is required for the generation of the other product or service.

Source: Rome et al 2015

Critical Infrastructure (CI) Element

Part of a CI. Can have sub-elements.

Source: Rome et al 2015

Critical Information Infrastructure (CII)

Critical information infrastructures (‘CII’) should be understood as referring to those interconnected information systems and networks, the disruption or destruction of which would have serious impact on the health, safety, security, or economic well-being of citizens, or on the effective functioning of government or the economy.

Source: OECD Recommendation of the Council on the Protection of Critical Information Infrastructures C(2008)35

Critical Infrastructure (CI) Interdependency

The mutual dependency of products or services.

Source: ACIP 2003

Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP)

All activities aimed at ensuring the functionality, continuity and integrity of critical infrastructures in order to deter, mitigate and neutralise a threat, risk or vulnerability.

Source: Council Directive 2008/114/EC

Critical Infrastructure (CI) Sector

Economic sectors considered critical.

Source: Rome et al. 2015

Cyber Security

Cyber-security commonly refers to the safeguards and actions that can be used to protect the cyber domain, both in the civilian and military fields, from those threats that are associated with or that may harm its interdependent networks and information infrastructure. Cyber-security strives to preserve the availability and integrity of the networks and infrastructure and the confidentiality of the information contained therein.

Source: EC 2013a


Damage classification is the evaluation and recording of damage to structures, facilities, or objects according to three (or more) categories.

Source: UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs, 1992


The result of making up one’s mind regarding a choice between alternatives.

Source: Wijnmalen et al 2015

Decision Support

The structure process of activities that support decision makers and other stakeholders in coping with and resolving problems they are faced with.

Source: Wijnmalen et al 2015

Disaster Risk Management

The systematic process of using administrative directives, organizations, and operational skills and capacities to implement strategies, policies and improved coping capacities in order to lessen the adverse impacts of hazards and the possibility of disaster.

Note: This term is an extension of the more general term “risk management” to address the specific issue of disaster risks. Disaster risk management aims to avoid, lessen or transfer the adverse effects of hazards through activities and measures for prevention, mitigation and preparedness.

Source: UNISDR 2009


Incident, whether anticipated (e.g. hurricane) or unanticipated (e.g. a blackout or earthquake) which disrupts the normal course of operations at an organization location.

Source: ISO/PAS 22399:2007 Societal security - Guideline for incident preparedness and operational continuity management

Driver (direct and indirect)

Any natural or human-induced factor that directly or indirectly causes a change to a given system.


A direct driver is a driver that unequivocally influences ecosystem processes, such as climate change, and can therefore be identified and measured to differing degrees of accuracy.

An indirect driver is a driver that operates by altering the level or rate of change of one or more direct drivers. [Important indirect drivers include changes in population, economic activity, and technology, as well as socio-political and cultural factors.]

Source: Adapted from Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005


A period of abnormally dry weather long enough to cause a serious hydrological imbalance. Drought is a relative term; therefore any discussion in terms of precipitation deficit must refer to the particular precipitation-related activity that is under discussion.

Source: IPCC 2013

Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA)

The use of biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of an overall adaptation strategy to help people to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.

Source: Adapted from Abajo et al. 2015

Ecosystem Service Planning

A place-based approach that focuses on the creation, restoration and conservation of ecological structures to provide society with specific services from nature.

Source: Wamsler et al. 2014


The good use of time and energy in a way that does not waste any.



The ability to be successful and produce the intended results.



A collection of model simulations characterizing a climate prediction or [climate] projection.

Source: IPCC 2013

European Critical Infrastructure

Critical infrastructure located in Member States the disruption or destruction of which would have a significant impact on at least two Member States. The significance of the impact shall be assessed in terms of cross-cutting criteria. This includes effects resulting from cross-sector dependencies on other types of infrastructure.

Source: Council Directive 2008/114/EC


Occurrence or change of a particular set of circumstances.

  • An event can be one or more occurrences, and can have several causes.
  • An event can consist of something not happening.
  • An event can sometimes be referred to as an “incident” or “accident”.

Source: CIPedia® 2015 based on ISO/PAS 22399:2007 and ISO/IEC 27000:2014

Evolutionary Adaptation

For a population or species, change in functional characteristics as a result of selection acting on heritable traits. The rate of evolutionary adaptation depends on factors such as the strength of selection, generation turnover time, and degree of outcrossing (as opposed to inbreeding).

Source: IPCC 2014


The presence of people, livelihoods, species or ecosystems, environmental services and resources, infrastructure, or economic, social, or cultural assets in places that could be adversely affected.

Source: IPCC 2014

Extreme Weather Event

An extreme weather event is an event that is rare at a particular place and time of year.

Source: IPCC 2013

Fluvial Flooding

Fluvial flooding occurs when a watercourse cannot cope with the water draining into it from the surrounding land. This can happen, for example, when heavy rain falls on an already waterlogged catchment.

Source: The Environment Agency, 2011.

Green Infrastructure

Broadly defined as a strategically planned network of high quality natural and semi-natural areas with other environmental features, which is designed and managed to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services and protect biodiversity in both rural and urban settings.

Note: Green infrastructure may incorporate both landscape and water features, the latter of which may be termed ‘blue infrastructure’. Other terms include ‘green-blue infrastructure’ and ‘green and blue infrastructure’

Source: European Commission 2013b

Grey Infrastructure

Familiar urban infrastructure such as roads, sewer systems and storm drains is known as ‘grey infrastructure’. Such conventional infrastructure often uses engineered solutions typically designed for a single function.

Source: Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology 2013


The potential occurrence of a natural or human-induced physical event or trend, or physical impact, that may cause loss of life, injury, or other health impacts, as well as damage and loss to property, infrastructure, livelihoods, service provision, and environmental resources.

Source: IPCC 2014a

source of potential harm

Note: In the context of climate change the term 'hazard' usually refers to climate-related physical events or trends or their physical impacts.

Source: Modified from ISO Guide 73:2009,


A prolonged period of excessively hot weather, which may be accompanied by high humidity. There is no universal definition of a heatwave; the term is relative to the climate in the area with a locally identified threshold temperature.

Source: UK Climate Projections 200

Heat Stress

Heat stress occurs when the body’s means of controlling its internal temperature starts to fail. As well as air temperature, factors such as activity rate, humidity and clothing worn may lead to heat stress.

Source: Adapted from Health and Safety Executive (UK) 2017


Effects on natural and human systems (…) the term impact is used primarily to refer to the effects on natural and human systems of extreme weather and events and of climate change. Impacts generally refer to effects on lives, livelihoods, health, ecosystems, economies, societies, cultures, services and infrastructure due to the interaction of climate changes of hazardous climate events occurring within a specific time period and the vulnerability of an exposed society or system. Note: Impacts are also referred to as consequences and outcomes

Source: Adapted from IPCC 2014

The direct outcome of an event.

Source: CIPedia® 2015

Impact Chains

Permit the structuring of cause - effect relationships between drivers and/or inhibitors affecting the vulnerability of a system.

Impact chains allow for a visualization of interrelations and feedbacks, help to identify the key impacts, on which level they occur and allow visualising which climate signals may lead to them. They further help to clarify and/or validate the objectives and the scope of the vulnerability assessment and are a useful tool to involve stakeholders.

Source: BMZ 2014


Event that might be, or could lead to, an operational interruption, disruption, loss, emergency or crisis.

Source: ISO/PAS 22399: 2007

Incremental Adaptation

Adaptation actions where the central aim is to maintain the essence and integrity of a system or process at a given scale.

Source: IPCC 2014


quantitative, qualitative or binary variable that can be measured or described, in response to a defined criterion

Source: ISO 13065:2015, 3.27


Infrastructure refers to all public and private facilities which are considered to be necessary for adequate public services and economic development. In most cases, the infrastructure is divided into technical infrastructure (e.g. transport and communications facilities, energy and water supply or wastewater disposal) and social infrastructure (e.g. schools, hospitals, shopping or cultural facilities).1

1 The definition of social infrastructure can vary as described in the social infrastructure entry which is divided into physical social infrastructure and institutional social infrastructure.

Source: Translated from: Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik, Bundesamt für Bevölkerungsschutz und Katastrophenhilfe (2013)


The degree of function loss of an object.

Source: Rome et al 2015


The chance of a specific outcome occurring, where this might be estimated probabilistically.

Source: IPCC 2014


Actions that may lead to increased risk of adverse climate-related outcomes, increased vulnerability to climate change, or diminished welfare, now or in the future.

Source: IPCC 2014