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Definitions of relevant concepts
Conclusions 4th Thematic Seminar, Forlì, October 28-29 2010
 
Introduction
Partners in the MiSRaR project will exchange experiences in all fields related to the mitigation of risks, starting with a risk assessment and ending with implentation of spatial relevant measures. During the first phase of the project a global mitigation process was defined by all partners, incorporating the steps indicated in the picture at the left.

This process and each seperate step will be described in a European mitigation handbook and three more specific thematic brochures that will de drafted and published by the MiSRaR project.
Each to be organized thematic seminar will deal with one of these steps. Partners will exchange knowledge and experiences per mitigation step. The creation of a joint understanding of the whole process was therefore a crucial prerequisite for the succes of the project. Underneath an short disciption is provided of each of the seperate steps:


Definitions

Hazard
is a potentially damaging physical event, phenomenon or activity that may cause the loss of life or injury, property damage, social and economic disruption and environmental degradation.

Risk
is a combination of the consequences or impact of an event (or hazard) and the associated likelihood (probability) of its occurrence.

Risk assessment
is the overall process of risk identification, risk analysis, and risk evaluation.

The United Nations define risk assessment or analysis generically as a method for determining the nature and extent of risk “by analysing potential hazards and evaluating existing conditions of vulnerability that together could potentially harm exposed people, property, services, livelihoods and the environment on which they depend.”

In the MiSRaR project risk assessment has earlier been defined as “the overall process of risk identification, risk analysis, and risk evaluation. This process leads to a structured insight into:
- the possible hazards (hazard identification);
- the possibility of these hazards leading to a crisis or disaster;
- the consequences for the territory in terms of casualties, economic loss, environmental damage, social/emotional harm, loss of territorial integrity and loss of cultural heritage (risk analysis).
These aspects lead to the prioritization of risks (risk evaluation).”

The planning of the first thematic seminars is based upon this definition. Meanwhile the European Commission has prepared a guideline on national risk assessment and risk mapping. This guideline contains several definitions relevant to the MiSRaR project. Because the guideline most likely will be leading for future developments we decided to adopt these definitions. The definitions that are used up to now in the MiSRaR project are added to the EU definitions as explanations. Click here for the European guidline.

Risk identification
is the process of finding, recognizing and describing risks.
Explanation
This is the process to identify hazards by identifying:
  • the various sources of risks
  • the vulnerability of society to these risks.

Risk analysis
is the process to comprehend the nature of risk and to determine the level of risk.
Explanation
The result of the risk-analysis will be a ranking of the risks.
The analysis is done by:
• defining the probability that an incident will occur;
• defining the consequences for the territory, in terms of casualties, economic security, ecological security, social /emotional harm, loss of territorial integrity and loss of cultural heritage.

Risk evaluation
is the process of comparing the results of risk analysis with risk criteria to determine whether the risk and/or its magnitude is acceptable or tolerable.
Explanation
Risk evaluation leads to the prioritizing of risks based on the previous analysis (risk criteria) and the political priorities (political criteria).


Risk criteria
are the terms of reference against which the significance of a risk is evaluated.

Vulnerability
is defined as the conditions determined by physical, social, economic and environmental factors or processes, which increase the susceptibility of a community to the impact of hazards.

Resilience
is the capacity of a system, community or society potentially exposed to hazards to adapt by resisting or changing in order to reach and maintain an acceptable level of functioning and structure. This is determined by the degree to which the social system is capable of organising itself to increase this capacity for learning from past disasters for better future protection and to improve risk reduction measures.

Exposure
is the degree to which a system or a community (generally: elements at risk) is exposed to potential hazards, taking into account the level of preventive and preparatory measures against its consequences.

Consequences
are the negative effects of a disaster expressed in terms of human impacts, economic impacts, and political/social impacts.

Human impact
is defined as the quantitative measurement of the following factors: number of deaths, number of severely injured or ill people, and number of permanently displaced people.

Economic and environmental impact
is the costs of cure or healthcare, cost of immediate or longer-term emergency measures, costs of restoration of buildings, infrastructure, property, costs of environmental restoration, cultural heritage, etc., costs of disruption of economic activity, value of insurance pay-outs, indirect costs on the economy, indirect social costs, and other direct and indirect costs as relevant.

Political/social impacts
may include public outrage and anxiety, encroachment of the territory, infringement of the international position, violation of the democratic system, and social psychological impact, impact on public order and safety, political implications, psychological implications, and damage to cultural assets.

Single-risk assessments
determine the singular risk (i.e. likelihood and consequences) from one particular event or hazard (e.g. flood) or one particular type of hazard (e.g. flooding) occurring in a particular geographic area during a given period of time.

Multi-risk assessments
determine the cumulative risk from several events or hazards either occurring at the same time or shortly following each other, because they are dependent from one another or because they are caused by the same triggering event or hazard, or merely threatening the same elements at risk (vulnerable/ exposed elements) without chronological coincidence.

Multi-hazard assessments
determine the likelihood of occurrence of different hazards either occurring at the same time or shortly following each other, because they are dependent from one another or because they are caused by the same triggering event or hazard, or merely threatening the same elements at risk (vulnerable/ exposed elements) without chronological coincidence.

Risk map
is a map that portrays levels of risk across a geographical area. Such maps can focus on one risk only or include different types of risks.

Hazard map
is a map that portrays levels of probability of a hazard occurring across a geographical area. Such maps can focus on one hazard only or include several types of hazards (multi-hazard map).

Multi-hazard map
is a map that portrays levels of probability of several hazards occurring across a geographical area.

Setting objectives
The risk-assessment leads to objectives about the threats and consequences: which to mitigate and which to combat. The objectives are elaborated in the mitigation plan.

Mitigation planning
The process of defining measures which can be implemented, based on the objectives. The final mitigation plan will contain not only a description of the objectives, but also a number of steps, described underneath:

Analysis of the chosen risks
This analysis has to result in a description of the precise risks defined in terms of cause, nature and likely consequences. With this description it has to be defined where the mitigationtargets are to be set and which actors are responsible.

Mitigation instruments
Coming up with specific technical, legal, spatial or behavioral-science-instruments to reduce or mitigate a (particular or general) threat and its effects.

Cost-benefit analysis
The process of balancing costs and benefits of potential mitigation instruments (and preparedness) to each other and towards maintaining the status quo. Costs and revenues are both defined in terms of potential victims, financial loss, etc.

Financing and Legal framework
The financial support and funding of the chosen instruments as well as the legal feasibility and determination of necessary changes in laws and regulations.

Lobby & Advocacy
The process of obtaining support by political authorities and other stakeholders like residents and businesses.