Jargon glossary

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Acid rain
Rain polluted by sulphur and nitrogen-based acids from combustion processes which damages lakes and forests.
The genesis or development of the human race, especially as a subject of scientific study. Anthropogenic effects are effects caused by humans; effects that relate to the influence of human beings on nature.
Applied research
Applied research is original investigation undertaken in order to acquire new knowledge. It is, however, directed primarily towards a specific practical aim or objective.
Adaptation of one ethnic or social group – usually a minority – to another. Assimilation involves the subsuming of language, traditions, values, norms and behaviour or even fundamental vital interests. Assimilation is the most extreme form of acculturation.
Assisted voluntary return
Administrative, logistical, financial and reintegration support to migrants unable or unwilling to remain in the host country who volunteer to return to their countries of origin.
Asylum seeker
A person who seeks safety from persecution or serious harm in a country other than his or her own; awaits a decision on the application for refugee status under relevant international and national instruments.
A word coined by Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela to define a living system. The word literally means self-creation from the Greek auto (– self) and poiesis (– creation or production). Autopoiesis is used to describe a system that contains all of the means to reproduce itself.
Basic research
Basic research is experimental or theoretical work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge of the underlying foundation of phenomena and observable facts, without any particular application or use in view.
Substances that can be decomposed through biological processes.
All material of vegetable and animal origin produced through biological processes. As an energy source, biomass can either be used directly, or converted into other energy products such as biofuel.
That part of the earths surface, including the ocean, the atmosphere which supports life.
Brain drain
Emigration of trained and talented individuals from the country of origin to another country resulting in a substantial depletion of skills resources in the former.
Brain gain
Accumulation of skills. Immigration of trained and talented individuals into the destination country. Also called 'reverse brain drain'. Increase in the number of highly educated people in migrant sending countries as a result of migration.
Carbon neutral
Carbon neutral is a term used to capture the concept of: cancelling out the harm done to the earth's atmosphere by one type of greenhouse gas-generating human activity, through another human activity that: either reduces CO2 emissions by an equal amount; or prevents an equal amount being generated by an essential CO2 producing human activity through substituting a non- or low carbon producing alternative.
Circular migration
The fluid and continuous movement of people between countries, including temporary or long-term movement.
Climate change
Climate change, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), refers to a change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e.g. using statistical tests) by changes in the mean and/or variability of its properties, and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer. It refers to any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity. This usage differs from that in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), where climate change refers to a change of climate that is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and that is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.
Community Innovation Survey
The Community Innovation Survey (CIS) is a survey on innovation activity in enterprises covering EU Member States, EU Candidate Countries, Iceland and Norway. The CIS is designed to obtain information on innovation activities within enterprises, as well as various aspects of the process such as the effects of innovation, sources of information used, costs etc. The CIS is based on the Oslo Manual.
Process to remove salt from sea water.
Transformation of productive land into desert.
Ecological footprint
The term ecological footprint was coined by William Rees in 1992. It has proved to be a powerful metaphor, lending itself to illustration with vivid depictions of trampling on the earth and taking up more space than is available. As a result the use of Footprint has become wide-spread with people now talking about a water footprint, social footprint or carbon footprint.
Economic remittances
Money or goods transferred by migrants to family, friends, organizations or institutions, usually back to their country of origin.
Economic remittances (in kind)
Goods (physical objects of value) that are transferred by a migrant back to his or her country of origin.
A collection of living organisms, their necessary resources and their habitat,and their interaction in a self-contained and sustainable manner.
The act of departing or exiting from one State with a view to settle in another.
One or more substances released to the water, air or soil in the natural environment. See also environmental release, pollution and environmental intervention.
Energy resources
Sources of fuel, both renewable and non-renewable.
Surroundings in which an organization operates, including air, water, land, natural resources, flora, fauna, humans, and their interrelations. This definition extends the view from a company focus to the global system.
Environmental migration
Environmental migrants are persons or groups of persons who, for compelling reasons of sudden or progressive changes in the environment that adversely affect their lives or living conditions, are obliged to leave their habitual homes, or choose to do so, either temporarily or permanently, and who move either within their country or abroad
Environmental policy
A statement by an organization of its intentions and principles in relation to its overall environmental performance. Environmental policy provides a framework for action and for the setting of its environmental objectives and target.
The loss of soil by winds and water.
Accelerated ageing of lakes through build up of organic residues caused by over-fertilization.
Experimental development
Experimental development is systematic work, drawing on existing knowledge gained from research and/or practical experience, which is directed to producing new materials, products or devices, to installing new processes, systems and services, or to improving substantially those already produced or installed.
Food miles
Distance travelled by food items from farm to plate and the amount of energy and greenhouse gas emissions embodied in that travel. The term has become widely used and has apparently prompted people to think about where their food items originate.
Forced migrants
A general term used to describe persons whose migratory movement includes an element of coercion, including threats to life and livelihood, whether arising from natural or man-made causes (eg movements of refugees and internally displaced persons as well as people displaced by natural or environmental disasters, chemical or nuclear disasters, famine, or development projects).
Formal remittances
Money or goods transferred by migrants to their country of origin through formal - ie regulated - channels (banks, money transfer operators, etc.)
Fossil fuel
A source of non-renewable energy such as oil, gas and coal resulting from the fossilization of biomass.
Green revolution
Increases in food outputs from high-yielding varieties of seeds which require a combination of irrigation, fertilizers and pesticides.
Greenhouse effect
Heating of the atmosphere due to the trapped solar energy as a result of a rise in the carbon dioxide concentration of the atmosphere.
Highly skilled migrants
Migrants who have achieved at least tertiary education (at least a formal two-year college education)
Chemical compounds composed of hydrogen and carbon; the largest source of hydrocarbons is oil.
Illegal migrant
(See irregular migrant)
International Labour Organization www.ilo.org
A process by which non-nationals move into a country for the purpose of settlement.
Informal remittances
Money or goods transferred by migrants to their country of origin through informal channels - ie unregulated - eg physically carrying cash through traditional systems, such as 'hawala'.
An innovation is the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service), or process, a new marketing method, or a new organizational method in business practices, workplace organization or external relations.
Input-output analysis is a macro-economic method that provides a snap-shot of the economy. It shows how the output of one industry becomes the input of another, revealing supplier and demander interdependencies.
The process by which immigrants become accepted into society, both as individuals and as groups. The particular requirements for acceptance by a receiving society vary greatly from country to country; and the responsibility for integration rests with many: immigrants themselves, the host government, institutions, and communities.
Internal migration
A movement of people from one area of a country to another for the purpose or with the effect of establishing a new residence. This migration may be temporary or permanent. Internal migrants move but remain within their country of origin (eg rural to urban migration).
International development
Work undertaken at an international level to help build the capacity of developing countries to implement long-term solutions to threats faced by their populations.
International migration
To move across international borders for a purpose other than short-term visits (i.e. vacations). The cut-off points for definition of international migration usually include 1-month, 3-month or 12-months.
International Organization for Migration www.iom.int
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change http://www.ipcc.ch/
Irregular migrants
Persons who, owing to illegal entry or expiry of their visa, lack legal status in a transit or host country. The term applies to migrants who infringe on a country's admission rules and any other person not authorized to remain in the host country (also called clandestine/ illegal/undocumented migrant or migrant in an irregular situation).
The locavore movement encourages consumers to buy from farmers' markets or produce their own food. They argue that local products are more nutritious and taste better. They also claim that locally grown food is more environmentally friendly because it does not use fossil fuels in transporting the food from grower to plate.
Long-term migration
The movement of persons to a country other than that of their usual residence for a period of at least a year, so that the country of destination effectively becomes their new country of usual residence.
Low-skilled migrants
Migrants who have achieved no higher than middle-secondary education.
Marketing innovation
A marketing innovation is the implementation of a new marketing method involving significant changes in product design or packaging, product placement, product promotion or pricing.
Very large metropolitan urbanized zone. Also termed 'Mega-city'.
Metabolic chain (food chain)
The sequence of consumption of lower organisms by higher organisms.
A person who currently lives in a country other than his or her country of birth.
Migrants: second generation
People who were born in the country in which they now live, but have at least one parent who was born abroad.
Migrants: first generation
People who were born abroad, but moved to their current country of residence at some point during their lifetime.
Migrants: third generation
Persons born in the country in which they now live, but who have at least one grandparent born abroad.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development www.oecd.org
Organizational innovation
An organizational innovation is the implementation of a new organizational method in the firm’s business practices, workplace organization or external relations.
Gas containing three molecules of oxygen, a powerful oxidant. An ozone layer above the earth absorbs dangerous ultra violet radiation. In the lower atmosphere, it is involved in producing photo-chemical smog.
Permanent migration
The movement of persons to a country other than that of their usual residence with the intention of making the country of destination their permanent residence.
Process innovation
A process innovation is the implementation of a new or significantly improved production or delivery method. This includes significant changes in techniques, equipment and/or software.
Product innovation
A product innovation is the introduction of a good or service that is new or significantly improved with respect to its characteristics or intended uses. This includes significant improvements in technical specifications, components and materials, incorporated software, user friendliness or other functional characteristics.
The process of reusing material for the production of new goods or services on the same quality level. If the quality of the goods and services produced with recycled material is lower, then the process is known as downcycling. See also close-loop recycling and open-loop recycling.
A given status to a person, who “owing to well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinions, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country” (Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, Art. 1A(2), 1951 as modified by the 1967 Protocol).
Re-inclusion or re-incorporation of persons into a group or a process, e.g. of migrants into the society of their country of origin.
Reintegration (social)
Reinsertion of migrants into the social structures of their country of origin.
Reintegration (cultural)
Readoption by the returning migrant of the values, way of life, language, moral principles, ideology, and traditions of the country of origin’s society.
Reintegration (economic)
Reinsertion of migrants into the economic system of their country of origin; able to earn their own living.
Research and development
Research and experimental development (R&D) comprise creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications. The term R&D covers three activities: basic research, applied research and experimental development.
Return migration
The movement of people returning to their country of origin or habitual residence, usually after living in another country. This return may or may not be voluntary.
The additional use of a component, part, or product after it has been removed from a clearly defined service cycle. Reuse does not include reformation. However, cleaning, repair, or refurbishing may be done between uses.
Short-term migration
The movement of persons to a country other than that of their usual residence for a period of at least three months but less than a year, except in cases where the movement to that country is for purposes of recreation, holiday, visits to friends or relatives, or medical treatment.
Social costs
The quantitative and qualitative burden imposed on society by a given activity.
Social innovation
Social innovation is about new ideas that work to address pressing unmet needs. Social innovations are innovations that are both social in their ends and in their means. Social innovations are new ideas (products, services and models) that simultaneously meet social needs (more effectively than alternatives) and create new social relationships or collaborations.
Social remittances
The ideas, knowledge, behaviours, identities, and social capital that flow from receiving to sending country communities.
Sulphur dioxide
Air pollutant arises from the combustion of sulphur in fuels. Above certain concentrations it is a respiratory irritant; during airborn transportation it can convert into an acid precipitated as acid rain, which damages crops, forests, lakes and structures.
Sustainable development
Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts: i) the concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and ii) the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs.
Temporary migration
(See short-term migration)
Process by which migrants, through their daily activities, forge and maintain multi-stranded social, economic, and political relations that link together their societies of origin and settlement, and through which create social fields that cross national borders.
Unaccompanied minors
Individuals younger than 18 who migrate to a host country alone, with no guardian.
Undocumented migrant
International migrant who is not authorized to enter, to stay or to engage in employment in a State. There can also be internal undocumented migration, as is the case in China.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization www.unesco.org
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change http://unfccc.int/
United Nations Industrial Development Organization www.unido.org
UNU Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies www.cris.unu.edu
United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research www.wider.unu.edu
Voluntary migrants
A general term used to describe persons whose migratory movement is determined solely by themselves based on their preferences and opportunities.
Zoning regulations
Regulations designed to control land use for specific activities (industrial, residential, nature reserves etc.).


  • The Global Development Research Center. Urban Environmental Management 2012
  • International Organization for Migration Glossary of Terms, 2004 Glick-Schiller, Basch and Szanton-Blanc, 1992
  • OECD (2005), Oslo Manual: Guidelines for Collecting and Interpreting Innovation Data.
  • OECD (2002), Frascati Manual: Proposed Standard Practice for Surveys on Research and Experimental Development.
  • Open Book of Social Innovation, Murray, Calulier-Grice and Mulgan, March 2010.
  • The University of Sydney. Integrated Sustainability Analysis. 2012
  • World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED): Our Common Future; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987