IRDR DATA Project Publishes Peril Classification and Hazard Glossary

The Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) programme has recently published its Peril Classification and Hazard Glossary, which summarises the agreement on peril classifications and hazard definitions by members of the IRDR Disaster Loss Data (DATA) Project Working Group. This new and revised framework is implementable by loss databases with either a high level of hazard aggregation (only includes categories such as meteorological or geophysical) that do not distinguish specific perils, as well as databases that use perils (hurricane, tsunami, earthquake) rather than the more general categories. In this way, the classification serves the needs of multiple types of loss databases often managed for very different purposes.

Understanding and documenting impacts from natural hazards is the foundation for decision-making and policy-setting in disaster risk reduction. The impacts range from human effects such as displacement, homelessness and fatalities, to environmental (wetland loss, desertification) and economic losses (damage to property and crops). Documenting impacts in a standardised and comprehensive way is challenging largely due to the lack of common terminologies for perils, measurement methodologies, and human loss indicators. The inability to compare losses across hazards, space and time hampers the assessment of the burden of disasters at global to local levels. To overcome these challenges, the IRDR programme established the DATA project to study issues related to the collection, storage, and dissemination of disaster loss data.

The peril glossary offered in this document provides guidelines on event classification and a unified terminology for operating loss databases only. It is not intended as a comprehensive list of perils or as a conclusive definitional standard of hazards. This harmonised peril classification system and definitions serves the international disaster risk reduction community and contributes to the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) in regard to improving information on key hazards and their impacts.

Click here to read the report [PDF 4 MB].

About IRDR

IRDR is a decade-long global, trans-disciplinary research programme created to address the major challenges of natural and human-induced environmental hazards. The programme is jointly sponsored by the International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Social Science Council (ISSC), and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR). The programme’s overarching objective is to work across disciplinary boundaries and to integrate research expertise from the natural, socioeconomic, health and engineering sciences, as well as policy-making, coupled with an understanding of the role of communications, and public and political responses to reduce the risk from disasters.

Members of the IRDR DATA Project Working Group

  • Susan L. CUTTER (Co-Chair), University of South Carolina
  • Daniele EHRLICH (Co-Chair), EU Joint Research Center
  • Sisi ZLATANOVA (Co-Chair), Delft University
  • Robert S. CHEN, Columbia University
  • Regina BELOW, Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), Université Catholique de Louvain
  • Lucia BEVERE, Swiss Re
  • Jan EICHNER, Munich Re
  • Julio SERJE, United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR)
  • Carlos VILLACIS, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • Adam SMITH, U.S. National Climatic Data Center/NOAA
  • Wei-Sen LI, Taiwan National Science and Technology Center for Disaster Reduction (NCDR)
  • Maria PATEK, Austrian Government
  • Frederic ZANETTA, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
  • Ricardo ZAPATA MARTI, United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America (UNECLAC)
  • Francis GHESQUIERE, The World Bank
  • Melanie GALL (Ex-Officio), University of South Carolina

Further information about the report or the IRDR DATA project may be obtained from the IRDR’s International Programme Office (IPO) by contacting the Junior Science Officer, Ms Kerry-Ann Morris, at the following email address: