• | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |


    Adaptation plan
    Quoting from NASA: “ Adaptation – adapting to life in a changing climate – involves adjusting to actual or expected future climate. The goal is to reduce our vulnerability to the harmful effects of climate change (like sea-level encroachment, more intense extreme weather events or food insecurity). It also encompasses making the most of any potential beneficial opportunities associated with climate change (for example, longer growing seasons or increased yields in some regions).”

    Reference / Further reading:
    NASA. Responding to Climate Change. Available here.



    Contaminated site
    A site at which substances or contaminants occur at concentrations exceeding the levels specified in policies and regulations.

    Reference / Further reading:
    Government of Western Australia. What is site contamination? Available here.



    Earth Observation technologies
    Earth Observation technologies refers to any method of remote observation of the surface of the Earth that acquires information from airbone or space sensors. EO techniques have become essential to monitor vulnerable ecosystems and evaluate management practices on many fields such agriculture, forestry, weather forecasting or land-use policy. EO data characteristics: their global coverage with various temporal (hourly, weekly, bi-weekly) and spatial (from meters to kilometres) resolutions, their non-destructive nature, their immediate transmission, digital format and the open accessibility of some of them (e.g. Sentinel mission from the European Space Agency, or Landsat series and MODIS missions from NASA), make them key to evaluate ecosystems functioning, moreover in developing countries, because of ground data scarcity, unreliable monitoring networks, lack of data access and in some cases of technical expertise


    Freshwater is the Earth’s water in solid, liquid or vaporous state that is not saline. The greater portion of this fresh water (68.7%) is in the form of ice and permanent snow cover in the Antarctic, the Arctic, and in the mountainous regions. Next, 29.9% exists as fresh groundwater. Only 0.26% of the total amount of freshwater on the Earth is concentrated in lakes, reservoirs and river systems where it is most easily accessible for our economic needs and absolutely vital for water ecosystems.

    Reference / Further reading:
    UNESCO. Definition of freshwater resources. Available here.




    A waste treatment technique which involves the combustion of organic matter contained in waste materials. The process converts the waste into heat, flue gas and ash.

    Reference / Further reading:
    Waste Management Resources. Incineration. Available here.

    Integrated Environmental Resources Management
    An Integrated Environmental Resources Management is that management of water, land and other resources that promotes a development taking into account the physical limits of the ecosystems, maximizing economic and social welfare without compromising the ecosystem sustainability. This management of resources has an holistic perspective, and takes into account the complex and heterogeneous relationships, the non-linearities, the limits, and the different space and temporal scales of the environment.

    Reference / Further reading:
    Humberto Peña. Global Water Partnership Technical Committee (TEC). Available here.

    Integrated Water Resources Management
    Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is a process which promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources in order to maximise economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems.

    Reference / Further reading:
    The Global Water Partnership. What is IWRM?. Available here.




    Disposing waste in a landfill which is specifically designed structure that is able to isolate its content from its surrounding to reduce the environmental pollution.

    Reference / Further reading:
    HowStuffWorks. What is a Landfill? Available here.


    Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR)
    Managed aquifer recharge, or MAR, refers to the intentional storage and treatment of water in aquifers for subsequent use or environmental benefit.

    Reference / Further reading:
    What is MAR? Available here.


    Nexus Approach
    The Nexus Approach to environmental resources’ management examines the inter-relatedness and interdependencies of environmental resources and their transitions and fluxes across spatial scales and between compartments. Instead of just looking at individual components, the functioning, productivity and management of a complex system is taken into consideration.

    Reference / Further reading:
    The Nexus Approach to Environmental Resources´ Management. A definition from the perspective of UNU-FLORES. Available here.





    Radar Topography Models
    Radars have more applications than deriving topographic models (Digital Elevation Model)

    Radar is an electromagnetic energy, form by the radio wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum. Quoting ESA: ”The advantage of radar as a remote sensing tool is that it can image Earth’s surface through rain and cloud, and regardless of whether it is day or night. This is particularly useful for monitoring areas prone to long periods of darkness – such as the Arctic – or providing imagery for emergency response during extreme weather conditions. Radar data can also be used for monitoring land deformation. The ‘radar interferometry’ remote sensing technique combines two or more radar images over the same area to detect changes occurring between acquisitions. Interferometry allows for the monitoring of even slight ground movement – down to a few millimetres – across wide areas. As well as being a valuable resource for urban planners, this kind of information is essential for monitoring shifts from earthquakes, landslides and volcanic uplift.”

    Reference / Further reading:
    ESA. Instrument. Available here.

    Refuse-driven fuel (RDF)
    Typically consists of pelletized municipal solid waste. Pre-processing to remove iron materials, glass, grit, and other materials that are not combustible has to be undertaken. The remaining material, with calorific value, is then converted to pellets, which are used as fuels.

    Reference / Further reading:
    UNU-FLORES. Waste Management. Available here.

    Resilient cities
    Resilience is the ability of an ecosystem to return to its original state after being disturbed, and can also be applied to cities, which the necessary capacity to meet the challenges of the future (e.g. climate change or increasing of urban population).

    Reference / Further reading: Resilience. Available here.

    Resource recovery
    Selective extraction of disposed matter for a specific next use. Typical examples are: recycling, composting and energy generation.

    Reference / Further reading:
    Recology. How we think about resources. Available here.


    Systems and Flux Analysis considering Global Change Assessment (SFA)
    SFA unit promotes inter-disciplinary research on material fluxes and cycling of the environmental resources water, soil and waste in order to enable a nexus approach to the sustainable management of these resources. Integrator, analyser and initiator of integrative research on environmental resources management, it will not only provide (modeling) tools and advice on data management, perform statistical and scenario analysis for global change assessment and but it will mainly act as driver and initiator of integrative research projects.

    Reference / Further reading:
    UNU-FLORES. Systems and Flux Analysis considering Global Change Assessment (SFA). Available here.


    Transboundary watersheds
    Rivers, lakes, inland water as a whole and aquifers that comprise two or more countries

    Reference / Further reading:
    UN-Water (2008). Transboundary Waters: Sharing Benefits, Sharing Responsibilities. Available here.
    The Transboundary Waters Assessment Programme (TWAP). Available here.


    United Nations University Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES)
    The United Nations University Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES) was established in 2012 in Dresden, Germany. Important milestones during the establishment phase were two International Scoping Workshops which took place in November 2010 in Dresden, Germany, and in October 2011 in Maputo, Mozambique. During these workshops the research areas were worked out and entry points for joint study programmes of UNU-FLORES and the Technische Universität Dresden (TUD) were identified. In addition, opportunities and challenges of establishing a network for partnership of UNU-FLORES based in Mozambique and its specific topics in research and teaching were discussed.

    Reference / Further reading:
    UNU-FLORES, 2016. About Us. Available here.



    By-product of the process of consumption that the consumer seeks to dispose /discard.

    Reference / Further reading:
    UNU-FLORES. Waste Mangement. Available here.

    Waste management
    Minimizing the waste volume generated and passed through society; utilizing the minimized waste flow to produce something useful such as fertilizer, energy and secondary material for new products, safely disposing at a terminal location such as a dry landfill.

    Reference / Further reading:
    UNU-FLORES. Waste Mangement. Available here.

    Water harvesting
    Water harvesting is the collection of runoff for productive purposes.

    Reference / Further reading:
    FAO – Natural Resources Management and Environment Department. Water Harvesting. Available here.

    Water quality
    Water quality is determined by comparing the physical and chemical characteristics of a water sample with water quality guidelines or standards (such as those by the EPA or WHO).

    Reference / Further reading:
    UNDESA. Water Quality. Available here.
    EPA. Drinking Water Contaminants – Standards and Regulations. Available here.

    Water quality indicators
    Environmental indicators have been defined as physical, chemical, biological or socio-economic measures that best represent the key elements of a complex ecosystem or environmental issue. An indicator is embedded in a well developed interpretative framework and has meaning beyond the measure it represents.

    Aquatic ecosystem health indicators can be broadly divided into four categories:

    • Physico-chemical indicators
    • Biological indicators
    • Habitat indicators
    • Flow indicators

    Indicators can be aggregated into indices (e.g. Drinking Water Quality Index DWQI).

    Reference / Further reading:
    UNEP. Water Quality Index and Indicators. Available here.

    Water scarcity
    Water scarcity is defined as the point at which the aggregate impact of all users impinges on the supply or quality of water under prevailing institutional arrangements to the extent that the demand by all sectors, including the environment, cannot be satisfied fully. Water scarcity is a relative concept and can occur at any level of supply or demand. Scarcity may be a social construct (a product of affluence, expectations and customary behaviour) or the consequence of altered supply patterns – stemming from climate change for example.

    Reference / Further reading:
    UNDESA. Water Scarcity. Available here.
    UN-Water (2012). Managing Water Report under Uncertainty and Risk. Available here.

    Water stress
    An area experiences water stress when annual water supplies drop below 1,700 m3 per person. When annual water supplies drop below 1,000 m3 per person, the population faces water scarcity, and below 500 cubic metres “absolute scarcity”.

    Reference / Further reading:
    UNDESA. Water Scarcity. Available here.
    UN-Water (2012) . Managing Water Report under Uncertainty and Risk. Available here.

    Water-use efficiency
    Crop physiologists define water use efficiency as the amount of carbon assimilated and crop yield per unit of transpiration (Viets, 1962) and then later as the amount of biomass or marketable yield per unit of evapotranspiration.

    Irrigation scientists and engineers have used the term water (irrigation) use efficiency to describe how effectively water is delivered to crops and to indicate the amount of water wasted at plot, farm, command, or system level and defined it as “the ratio of irrigation water transpired by the crops of an irrigation farm or project during their growth period to the water diverted from a river or other natural source into the farm or project canal or canals during the same period of time (Israelsen, 1932).

    Reference / Further reading:
    Sharma, Molden & Cook. Water use efficiency in agriculture: Measurement, current situation and trends. In Drechsel, P., Heffer, P., Magen, H., Mikkelsen, R., Wichelns, D. (Eds.) 2015. Managing Water and Fertilizer for Sustainable Agricultural Intensification. International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA), International Water Management Institute (IWMI), International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), and International Potash Institute (IPI). First edition, Paris, France. Available here.

    A watershed is an area of land that drains all the streams and rainfall to a common outlet such as the outflow of a reservoir, mouth of a bay, or any point along a stream channel.

    Reference / Further reading:
    U.S. Geological Survey. What is Watershed?. Available here.

    E-waste is a popular, informal name for electronic products nearing the end of their “useful life.” Computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, and fax machines are common electronic products. Many of these products can be reused, refurbished, or recycled.

    Reference / Further reading: