Glossary A - C

Adaptive capacity

  • the ability to plan, prepare for, facilitate, and implement adaptation options.

Source: FLOODsite

  • Factors that determine a community adaptive capacity include its economic wealth, its technology and infrastructure, the information, knowledge and skills that it possesses, the nature of its institutions, its commitment to equity, and its social capital.

Source: TUHH

Bioretention Area

Vegetated areas designed to collect and treat water before discharge via a piped system or infiltration to the ground.

Source:  Tourbier; White (2007)

Capacity building of stakeholders

  • resilience strategy devoted to promote the importance of the concept of “living with floods rather than flood fighting” on the microscale level, focusing on individual flood mitigation measures and increasing public awareness of flood hazard

Source: FLOWS

  • Capacity Building was defined in Agenda 21 (Chapter 37, UNCED, 1992.) as:
    • the creation of an enabling environment with appropriate policy and legal frameworks;

    • institutional development, including community participation;

    • human resources development and strengthening of managerial systems.

Capacity building is a long-term, continuing process, in which all stakeholders participate (ministries, local authorities, non-governmental organizations and water user groups, professional associations, academics and others). However, in the UNDP Briefing Paper, capacity building is much more than training and includes the following:

  • Human resource development, the process of equipping individuals with the understanding, skills and access to information, knowledge and training that enables them to perform effectively.

  • Organizational development, the elaboration of management structures, processes and procedures, not only within organizations but also the management of relationships between the different organizations and sectors (public, private and community).

  • Institutional and legal framework development, making legal and regulatory changes to enable organizations, institutions and agencies at all levels and in all sectors to enhance their capacities.

More recently the Cooperative Programme on Water and Climate (Biemans et al, 2006) identified that as regards Integrated Water Resources Management: ‘coping measures need to combine a suite of technical/structural and non-structural measures.’ This requires capacity building and the utilisation of what is termed the ‘safety chain’ concept:

  • Prevention

  • Preparation

  • Intervention

  • Risk spreading

  • Recondition

  • Reconstruction

These should be used within a ‘coherent suite of actions’ encompassing them all. This safety chain concept ‘encourages economic and societal innovations and provides for investment opportunities’.

Source:  Ashley et al. (2007)

Climate Change

A changing climate of a place or region can be realized, if over an extended period - decades or longer - a statistically significant change in measurements can be observed. The statistically significant change in measurements refers either to the mean state or to the variability of the climate.

Changes in climate may be due to natural processes or to persistent anthropogenic changes in atmosphere or in land use. Note that the definition of climate change used in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is more restricted, as it includes only those changes which are attributable directly or indirectly to human activity.



The conscious or unconscious process of deriving meaning from sensory data. So perceived risk. might be more correctly termed cognated risk.

Source: FLOODSite


  • represents an impact such as economic, social or environmental damage or improvement, and may be expressed quantitatively (e.g. monetary value), by category (e.g. High, Medium, Low) or descriptively.

Source: HR Wallingford (2002)

  • The direct effect of an event, incident or accident. It is expressed as a health effect (e.g., death, injury, exposure), property loss, environmental effect, evacuation, or quantity spilled.

Source: OHMS (2005)

  • Exposure multiplied by vulnerability.

Source: Klijn (2004)

Contamination assesment

  • analysis of pollution regarding sediment, soil and plant material.

Source: FLOWS

Coping capacity

The means by which people or organisations use available resources and abilities to face adverse consequences that could lead to a disaster.

Source: FLOODsite

Cost Benefit Analysis

Macroeconomic evaluation method that assesses projects through a comparison between their costs and benefits, including social costs and benefits for an entire region or country. Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) compares the costs and benefits of two or more alternatives of or at least the situation with and without the project; the costs and benefits are considered over for a certain period of investigation. A CBA is based on discounted cash flow methodology.

Source: FLOWS

Cost Effectiveness Analysis 

Analysis of at least two or more alternatives in order to identify the alternative with the highest input/output ratio; The aim is to either achieve the maximum output, or the result with the minimum input or costs.

Source: FLOWS

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