Welcome to Casus Calamitas, a blog about disaster risk, risk reduction and resilience in the modern world. Casus Calamitas loosely translates from latin to mean ‘chance of disaster’.
Latin doesn’t really have a word for risk, at least not in the modern sense. So what is the difference between chance and risk?
Central to modern systems of disaster management is the concept of ‘risk’. The International Standard on Risk Management (ISO 31000) defines risk as the effect of uncertainty on objectives. In the disaster context this uncertainty can relate to:
- When will the hazardous event occur;
- how intense will it be;
- how will it impact on communities and the environment; and
- how well will those communities respond to the impact.
Chance just refers to the timing of the event. Risk involves much more than chance. Unfortunately, people often focus just on this element missing the opportunity to do much more about minimising their risk. Mature risk management systems are able to bring in all the dimensions to strive towards a much broader and objective view of the disaster risks.
I’ve talked about the uncertainty associated with disasters, but that’s just half the ISO31000 definition. What are the objectives that this uncertainty impacts on?
That’s something I’ll focus on next time.