. .
Progress Themen Dienstleistungen Über Progress Entdecken Aktuelles
»Wie gehen die Menschen in unterschiedlichen Regionen mit den Risiken des Klimawandels um?«
Prof. Heiderose Kilper (IRS)




Climate in a narrow sense is usually defined as the average weather, or more rigorously, as the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years. The classical period for averaging these variables is 30 years, as defined by the World Meteorological Organization. The relevant quantities are most often surface variables such as temperature, precipitation and wind. Climate in a wider sense is the state, including a statistical description, of the climate system. In various parts of this report different averaging periods, such as a period of 20 years, are also used.

Climate change

Climate change refers to a change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e. g., by using statistical tests) by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties, and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer. Climate change may be due to natural internal processes or external forcings, or to persistent anthropogenic changes in the composition of the atmosphere or in land use. Note that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in its Article 1, defines climate change as: ‘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’. The UNFCCC thus makes a distinction between climate change attributable to human activities altering the atmospheric composition, and climate variability attributable to natural causes.


International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences Cooperation is joint or collaborative behaviour that is directed toward some goal and in which there is common interest or hope of reward. Cooperation may be voluntary or involuntary, direct or indirect, formal or informal, but always there is a combination of efforts toward a specific end in which all the participants have a stake, real or imagined. ]…] There is no limit to the potential range for coorperation; it is to be found in groups as small as the dyad and as large as leagues of sovereign states.
(International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences)


All attempts to align independently coexisting social activities with similar or identical objectives using communication and a set of cooperation rules.
(Own translation:
Wörterbuch der Soziologie)



The process of selecting an option for implementation. Decisions are formed by a decision maker (the one who makes the final choice) and a decision unit (all those in a small group, organization, or government who are involved in the process). They react to an identified problem or set of problems by analysing information, determining objectives, formulating options, evaluating the options, and reaching a conclusion. Decisions are therefore influenced by the number of actors involved, by their prestige, responsibilities, values and expertise, and by the impact of public opinion, pressure groups and the media.
(The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Science)



An expert is someone widely recognized as a reliable source of technique or skill whose faculty for judging or deciding rightly, justly, or wisely is accorded authority and status by their peers or the public in a specific well-distinguished domain. An expert, more generally, is a person with extensive knowledge or ability based on research, experience, or occupation and in a particular area of study.
Experts have a prolonged or intense experience through practice and education in a particular field. In specific fields, the definition of expert is well established by consensus and therefore it is not necessary for an individual to have a professional or academic qualification for them to be accepted as an expert.


Game theory

Game theory is a toolkit for the formal study of the strategic behaviour of agents in situations of conflicting individual preferences, like participants in a market, a family planning their holidays, countries negotiating a climate treaty, or even fighting animals, and is used in the behavioural and social sciences (economics, sociology, political science, biology, etc.). Game theory can often explain observed behaviour and sometimes give strategic advice.



Hazard is defined as a physical event, phenomenon or human activity with a certain probability and the potential to result in harm.
(Elements of a Directive on Flood Risk management: Flood mapping and flood risk management plans, Outcome of the Drafting Group meetings on 4 and 11 March 2005*)



Deeply embedded patterns of social practices or norms that play a significant role in the organization of society. Institutions can include diverse areas of social activity, from the family to basic aspects of political life. In some cases they acquire an organized or bureaucratized administrative structure, in which case they become institutions in something closer to the common usage of the term. […]
(Dictionary of the Social Sciences)



Knowledge is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as (i) expertise, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject; (ii) what is known in a particular field or in total; facts and information; or (iii) awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation. [...] There is however no single agreed definition of knowledge presently, nor any prospect of one, and there remain numerous competing theories. […]


Natural Hazard

Natural phenomenon that occurs in proximity to and poses a threat to people, structures or economic assets and may cause disaster. Natural hazards are caused by biological, geological, seismic, hydrological, or meteorological conditions or processes in natural environment.
(UNINA Università Federico II, Italy*)


Policy advice

Informing policy-makers on a certain topic or problem, in order to provide (several) options to solve a particular problem.
(Own definition (DR/TH))



Technical definition including two variables – the probability of occurrence of a specific instance of damage, and the extent of that damage. Nevertheless social science perspective focuses on the aspects of societal and psychological risk experience and risk perception, while socio-economic approaches focus on risks to livelihood security and the satisfaction of basic needs.
(PIK – Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research* )

Role of science

The position and importance of scientists during the exploration of unknown fields of research, the communication of scientific findings and related policy advice. Scientists positions oscilliate between pure observation over provision of information to calling for certain actions and providing concrete (prescriptive) policy recommendations.
(Own definition (DR/TH))


Spatial planning

Spatial planning is action to influence spatial structure by managing territorial development and coordinating the spatial impacts of sectoral policies.
(INTERREG IIIB Northwest Europe*)



An expression of the degree to which a value (e.g., the future state of the climate system) is unknown. Uncertainty can result from lack of information or from disagreement about what is known or even knowable. It may have many types of sources, from quantifiable errors in the data to ambiguously defined concepts or terminology, or uncertain projections of human behaviour. Uncertainty can therefore be represented by quantitative measures, for example, a range of values calculated by various models, or by qualitative statements, for example, reflecting the judgement of a team of experts […].