Key terms have been defined by the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) to support a more uniform use of disaster related terms[fn]For an extensive list of terms and complete definitions, see http://www.preventionweb.net/english/professional/terminology/[/fn]. For ease of reference, the definition of some of the main terms is given below.
Thus, “disaster” is defined by ISDR as a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society causing widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses which exceed the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources. It results from the combination of hazards, conditions of vulnerability and insufficient capacity or measures to reduce the potential negative consequences of risk.
ISDR defines “disaster risk management” as the systematic process of using administrative decisions, organization, operational skills and capacities to implement policies, strategies and coping capacities of the society and communities to lessen the impacts of natural hazards and related environmental and technological disasters. This comprises all forms of activities, including structural and non-structural measures to avoid (prevention) or to limit (mitigation and preparedness) adverse effects of hazards.
“Disaster risk reduction” or “disaster reduction” is the conceptual framework of elements considered with the possibilities to minimize vulnerabilities and disaster risks throughout a society, to avoid (prevention) or to limit (mitigation and preparedness) the adverse impacts of hazards, within the broad context of sustainable development.
“Relief” or “response”, as defined by ISDR, are the provision of assistance or intervention during or immediately after a disaster to meet the life preservation and basic subsistence needs of those people affected. It can be of an immediate, short-term, or protracted duration. In this report, relief, response and emergency response, the term used in many UN-SPIDER documents, are used indiscriminately.