Natural and anthropogenic risks: proposal for an interdisciplinary glossary




In the past few years, Italy has been ravaged by catastrophic events of natural or anthropogenic origin. These events have highlighted, once again, the need to take prevention measures in order to mitigate the damage that similar future events could inflict on the Italian social and economic system. As the costs of these measures might be very high, available resources should be allocated carefully, assigning priority to areas with the highest potential risk. Therefore, estimating the potential damage caused by events expected both in the near future and on a longer timescale in a reliable way might be an important tool for pursuing an effective prevention policy. The growing diversification and extent of urbanised areas and economic activities make the estimation of the above effects increasingly complex. Hence, reliance should be made on a combination of disciplines that may be very different from or that have often developed independently of one another over the years. However, this combination has resulted in discrepancies in methodological approaches, which have impaired the effectiveness of communication to the authorities in charge of prevention policies. This document proposes a common way through which the scientific community may present its arguments and express its opinions about risks at the request of policymakers. In particular, the document proposes the use of a glossary with a view to overcoming “language” barriers among the various disciplines and defining a common lexicon. The document is organised as follows. The second section provides an overview of the rationale for a common terminology and the features that it should have, explaining its logical structure and normative purpose. Section 3 defines the concept of risk analysis in simple terms, highlighting the possible ambiguities associated with this concept that need further insights. Section 4 proposes a formalisation of the logical process to be followed in carrying out assessments and expressing opinions on various risks. This section also deals, in general terms, with the main items of information considered and their mutual relations. Section 5 presents the glossary, i.e. a list of terms, their definitions, and, where necessary, their application contexts. Finally, a short list of references used in the document is provided.




How to Cite

Versace, P., Zuccaro, G., Albarello, D., & Scarascia Mugnozza, G. (2023). Natural and anthropogenic risks: proposal for an interdisciplinary glossary. Italian Journal of Engineering Geology and Environment, (1), 5–18.