Capacity (ISDR)

A combination of all the strengths and resources available within a community, society or organization that can reduce the level of risk, or the effects of a disaster. Capacity may include physical, institutional, social or economic means as well as skilled personal or collective attributes such as leadership and management. Capacity may also be described as capability.

Capacity building

In the context of climate change, the process of developing the technical skills and institutional capability in developing countries and economies in transition to enable them to address effectively the causes and results of climate change.

Capacity Building (ISDR)

Efforts aimed to develop human skills within a community or organization needed to reduce the level of risk. In extended understanding, capacity building also includes development of institutional, financial, political and other resources, such as technology at different levels and sectors of the society.

Capacity for Disaster Reduction Initiative

An inter-agency initiative of UNDP/BCPR,ÊOCHA and the UNISDR secretariat. CADRI's mission is to advance knowledge of, and strengthen sustainable capacity development for, disaster risk reduction worldwide.

Carbon cycle

The term used to describe the exchange of carbon (in various forms, e.g., as carbon dioxide) between the atmosphere, ocean, terrestrial biosphere and geological deposits.

Carbon market

A popular (but misleading) term for a trading system through which countries may buy or sell units of greenhouse-gas emissions in an effort to meet their national limits on emissions, either under the Kyoto Protocol or under other agreements, such as that among member states of the European Union. The term comes from the fact that carbon dioxide is the predominant greenhouse gas, and other gases are measured in units called "carbon-dioxide equivalents."

Carbon sequestration

The process of removing carbon from the atmosphere and depositing it in a reservoir.

Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre

An institution that coordinates the Caribbean region's response to climate change. It is primarily concerned with maintaining a repository of climate change information and data and providing climate change-related policy advice and guidelines to the Caribbean member states.

Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency

An agency focused on disaster management organisation which serves the Caribbean Community. Its main function is to make an immediate and coordinated response to any disastrous event affecting any member state, upon the state's request for such assistance.

Caribbean Risk Management Initiative

A capacity development programme launched by UNDP and designed to build capacity across the Caribbean region for the management of climate-related risk. It is a platform for coordinating and sharing knowledge and experiences on disaster risk management and climate change adaptation throughout the Caribbean.

Cartagena Group

A collection of 27 countries seeking ambitious outcomes from the UNFCCC process and low carbon domestic output. Founded in 2010. Participating countries include Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Ghana, Indonesia, Malawi, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Samoa, Spain, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Uruguay, UK and the European Commission.


Convention on Biological Diversity.


See Clean Development Mechanism

Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters

A non-profit research institution of the Universit catholique de Louvain (UCL). CRED has been active for over thirty years in the fields of international disaster and conflict health studies, with research and training activities linking relief, rehabilitation and development. It promotes research, training and technical expertise on humanitarian emergencies, with a special focus on public health and epidemiology.

Certified emission reductions (CER)

A Kyoto Protocol unit equal to 1 metric tonne of CO2 equivalent. CERs are issued for emission reductions from CDM project activities. Two special types of CERs called temporary certified emission reduction (tCERs) and long-term certified emission reductions (lCERs) are issued for emission removals from afforestation and reforestation CDM projects.




See Methane.


A comprehensive hazard and risk management tool and/or process within the context of an integrated national development planning network/process.

Chemical Pollution

Pollution of soil, water or air by chemical substances that may have an adverse effect on organic life or the environment.


A group of chemical compounds used in industry and in the household, of which the excessive and universal use is believed to be one of the causes of ozone depletion, with resulting environmental damage.

Civil Crisis

An emergency caused by the breakdown of normal law and order or the civil processes.

Civil Defence and Emergency Management (NZ)

A New Zealand Ministry which provides policy advice to government, supports CDEM planning and operations, ensures there is coordination at local, regional and national levels, and manages the central government response for large scale civil defence emergencies that are beyond the capacity of local authorities.

Civil Disorder

A riot, violent protest, demonstration or illegal assembly that may affect public safety.

Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)

A mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol through which developed countries may finance greenhouse-gas emission reduction or removal projects in developing countries, and receive credits for doing so which they may apply towards meeting mandatory limits on their own emissions.


Climate is usually defined as the "average weather", or more rigorously, as the statistical description of the weather in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over periods of several decades (typically three decades as defined by WMO). These quantities are most often surface variables such as temperature, precipitation, and wind, but in a wider sense the "climate" is the description of the state of the climate system.

Climate Change

The long-term significant change in the average weather for a region.

Climate change (IPCC usage)

Climate change as referred to in the observational record of climate occurs because of internal changes within the climate system or in the interaction between its components, or because of changes in external forcing either for natural reasons or because of human activities. It is generally not possible clearly to make attribution between these causes. Projections of future climate change reported by IPCC generally consider only the influence on climate of anthropogenic increases in greenhouse gases and other human-related factors.

Climate change (UNFCCC usage)

A change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.

Climate sensitivity

In IPCC reports, climate sensitivity usually refers to the long-term (equilibrium) change in global mean surface temperature following a doubling of atmospheric CO2 (or equivalent CO2) concentration. More generally, it refers to the equilibrium change in surface air temperature following a unit change in radiative forcing (¡C/W m-2).


Carbon dioxide.

CO2 fertilization

The enhancement of plant growth as a result of elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration.

Coalition for Rainforest Nations

A voluntary grouping of largely developing nations with rainforests which addresses issues surrounding environmental sustainability specific to tropical rainforests. Participation does not necessarily imply that countries adhere to any specific domestic policies or negotiating positions within the international context. At September 2011, the group included Argentina, Bangladesh, Belize, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chile, Congo, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, DR Congo, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, El Salvador, Fiji, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Thailand, Uruguay, Uganda, Vanuatu and Vietnam. Countries participate on a voluntarily basis primarily through unified negotiating positions, workshops and collaborative programs.

Coastal Erosion

The removal of earth from coasts by meteorological, hydrological or human action.

Colombo Plan

A regional organisation that embodies the concept of collective intergovernmental effort to strengthen economic and social development of member countries in the Asia-Pacific region. It is based on the partnership concept of self-help and mutual help in the development process with the focal areas of human resource development and south-south cooperation.

Common Reporting Format (CRF)

Standardized format for reporting estimates of greenhouse-gas emissions and removals and other relevant information by Annex I Parties.

Commonwealth Counter-Disaster Task Force

A senior Australian interdepartmental committee which may be activated during the response and recovery phase of a disaster. It comprises representatives of Commonwealth Government departments and agencies with a significant role to play in the provision of disaster relief or rehabilitation assistance.

Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

An Australian Government department that develops and implements policies and programmes that ensure Australia's agricultural, fisheries, food and forestry industries remain competitive, profitable and sustainable. This department is active throughout the entire supply chain, from producer to consumer across Australia.


The imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium


The district or locality in which people live. A group of people living in the same locality and under the same government. A social group having common interests.

Community Awareness

The extent to which a defined group of people has been informed of, and has understood, information about a particular topic.

Community-based disaster risk management

A methodology or approach that seeks to build on existing community coping mechanisms and adaptation capacities. It also aims to build local resilience.

Community-based DRR

Managing disaster risk by increasing local capacity and resilience and reducing vulnerability to natural hazards. The approach engages the local community in managing local disaster risk often with the collaboration of external actors from civil society, local government and the private sector.

Comparative Research Programme on Poverty

A scientific programme of the International Social Science Council (ISSC) aiming to produce critical knowledge for understanding, eradicating and preventing poverty. It is structured as a network of scholars engaged in poverty-related research and a research programme with a focus on planning and developing research proposals and projects.

Complex Emergency

Complex emergencies combine internal conflict with large-scale displacements of people, mass famine or food shortage, and fragile or failing economic, political, and social institutions. Often, complex emergencies are also exacerbated by natural disasters.


Fulfilment by countries/businesses/individuals of emission reduction and reporting commitments under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol.

Compliance Committee

A committee that helps faciitate, promote and enforce compliance with the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol. It has 20 members with representation spread among various regions, small-island developing states, Annex I parties and non-Annex I parties, and functions through a plenary, a bureau, a facilitative branch and an enforcement branch.

Comprehensive Hazard and Risk Management

A comprehensive hazard and risk management tool for use within an integrated national development planning process. It aims to facilitate greater collaboration between risk reduction projects at all levels (though mostly at the national level with participation from stakeholders for decision-making) and across sectors to enhance sustainable development. CHARM takes all hazards into account across the whole country.

Conference of the Parties (COP)

The supreme body of the Convention. It currently meets once a year to review the Convention's progress. The word "conference" is not used here in the sense of "meeting" but rather of "association". The "Conference" meets in sessional periods, for example, the "fourth session of the Conference of the Parties."

Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP)

The Convention's supreme body is the COP, which serves as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. The sessions of the COP and the CMP are held during the same period to reduce costs and improve coordination between the Convention and the Protocol.

Consultative Group of Experts on National Communications from non-Annex I Parties (CGE)

A panel established to improve the preparation of national communications from developing countries. National communications are an obligation of Parties to the Climate Change Convention.

Coordinating Executive Group (NZ)

A Coordinating Executive Group (CEG) in New Zealand comprised of senior representatives of the Auckland Council and member organisations. Its role involves implementing the decisions of the Auckland Civil Defence Emergency Management Group and providing them with strategic advice.

Coping Capacity (ISDR)

The manner in which people or organizations use existing resources and abilities to face adverse consequences that could lead to a disaster. In general, this involves managing resources, both in normal times, as well as during adverse conditions. The strengthening of coping capacities usually builds resilience to withstand the effects of natural and other hazards.

Coping with Climate Change in the Pacific Islands Region

A project working to strengthen capacity to face climate change in 12 Pacific island countries and territories. Jointly implemented by the German Agency for International Cooperation and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, the project is scheduled to run to 2015.

Cotonou Agreement

A comprehensive partnership agreement treaty between developing countries in Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) and the European Union (EU). Signed in 2000 by 78 countries, the agreement aims for equality of partners, global participation, dialogue and regionalisation. It was also designed to establish a partnership with 3 pillars: development cooperation, political cooperation, and economic and trade cooperation.

Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific

An inter-organisational process that brings together several regional inter-governmental agencies. It is established with the aim of improving cooperation, coordination and collaboration between the work-programmes of its various members and achieving the common goal of sustainable development in the Pacific region.


All measures taken to counter and reduce disaster risk. They most commonly referred to engineering (structural) measures but can also include non-structural measures and tools designed and employed to avoid or limit the adverse impact of natural hazards and related environmental and technological disasters.


The distinctive ideas, customs, social behaviour, products, or way of life of a particular nation, society, people, or period.


A large-scale closed-circulation atmospheric system with low central barometric pressure rotating counter clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere.