Natural hazard events lead to disasters when the events interact with exposed and vulnerable physical and social systems. Despite significant progress in scientific understanding of physical phenomena leading to natural hazards as well as of vulnerability and exposure, disaster losses due to natural events do not show a tendency to decrease. This tendency is associated with many factors including increase in populations and assets at risk as well as in frequency and/or magnitude of natural events, especially those related to hydro-meteorological and climatic hazards. But essentially disaster losses increase because some of the elements of the multidimensional dynamic disaster risk system are not accounted for risk assessments. A comprehensive integrated system analysis and periodic assessment of disaster risks at any scale, from local to global, based on knowledge and data/information accumulated so far, are essential scientific tools that can assist in recognition and reduction of disaster risks. This paper reviews and synthesizes the knowledge of natural hazards, vulnerabilities, and disaster risks and aims to highlight potential contributions of science to disaster risk reduction (DRR) in order to provide policy-makers with the knowledge necessary to assist disaster risk mitigation and disaster risk management (DRM).
Ismail-Zadeh, A. and Cutter, S., Eds. (2015). Disaster Risks Research and Assessment to Promote Risk Reduction and Management. ICSU-ISSC, Paris.