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Capacity is often used in an interchangeable way with Capability.


European Definitions

EU EuropeAid
Capacity is the ability of people, organisations and society as a whole to manage their affairs successfully. [1]
Capacity is an attribute of people, individual organisations and groups of organisations. Capacity is shaped by, adapting to and reacting to external factors and actors, but it is not something external — it is internal to people, organisations and groups or systems of organisations.
Capacity is the rated continuous load-carrying ability of generation, transmission, or other electrical equipment, expressed in megawatts (MW) for active power or megavolt-amperes (MVA) for apparent power. [2]

Capacity means the maximum flow, expressed in normal cubic meters per time unit or in energy unit per time unit, to which the network user is entitled in accordance with the provisions of the transport contract. [3]

Capacity (power): the amount of power that is stored in an electric system (battery) or that can be transferred via a conductor. [4]

Other International Definitions

Capacity in general terms is the ability of an entity (person or organization) to produce a “quantity” of output(s) over a defined period of time using an appropriate metric. [5]
Within the context of FIRST's CSIRT framework, capacity is generally used to express the quantity of output(s) that can be delivered by a particular service over a period of time, and in some cases with indication of the number of clients/requests that can be serviced concurrently, where relevant. Capacity measures “How much” can be delivered, e.g. how many malware samples can be analyzed in a given time.


Capacity is an ‘absolute’ measure of the robustness of Systems, Structures and Components (SSCs) subjected to a particular threat that can include physical, operational and administrative attributes. [6]
Capacity is defined relative to a specific metric.


Capacity – A combination of all the strengths and resources available within a community, society or organization that can reduce the level of risk, or the effects of a disaster. [7]


Capacity is defined as: The ability of individuals, institutions and societies to perform functions, solve problems, and set and achieve objectives in a sustainable manner. [8]

Capacity is defined as: the ability of people, organizations and society as a whole to manage their affairs successfully. [9]


Capacity: The combination of all the strengths, attributes and resources available within a community, society or organization that can be used to achieve agreed goals. [10]

Capacité: Combinaison de toutes les forces et de tous les moyens disponibles au sein d’une communauté, d’une société ou d’une organisation qui peuvent être utilisés pour atteindre des objectifs fixés. [11]

Потенциал: Сочетание всех сильных сторон, факторов и ресурсов, имеющихся у местного населения, в обществе или организации, которое можно использовать для достижения согласованных целей. [12]

Capacidad: La combinación de todas las fortalezas, los atributos y los recursos disponibles dentro de una comunidad, sociedad u organización que pueden utilizarse para la consecución de los objetivos acordados. [13]

القدرات: تضافر كافة الإمكانات والسمات، من قوة وموارد متاحة للمجتمع أوالتجمعات أو المنظمات، التى يمكن الاستفادة منها للوصول للأهداف المتفق عليها. [14]

Kapasitas: Gabungan antara semua kekuatan, ciri yang melekat dan sumber daya yang tersedia dalam sebuah komunitas, masyarakat atau organisasi yang dapat digunakan untuk mencapai tujuantujuan yang disepakati. [15]

Kapasiti: Kombinasi pelbagai aspek kekuatan, sifat dan sumber yang ada dalam komuniti, masyarakat atau organisasi yang dapat digunakan bagi mencapai matlamat yang dipersetujui. [16]

National Definitions


Capacidad: combinación de atributos y recursos disponibles dentro de una comunidad u organización puestos a disposición para la reducción de riesgo y/o manejo de crisis. Incluye medios físicos, institucionales, económicos y humanos. [17]


Capacitate: Resurse necesare, militare sau civile pentru realizarea sarcinilor sau subsarcinilor în operaţiuni, altele decât cele de conflict armat (ex.: situaţii de urgenţă). Resursele includ personal şi echipament grupat în pachete şi/sau module, respectiv forţe de sprijin, ateriale, servicii, asistenţă financiară şi timp necesare realizării sarcinilor sau subsarcinilor specifice. [18]

Saint Lucia

Capacity: Physical social, economic and institutional means as well as skilled personal or collective attributes such as leadership and management (ISDR). [19]


Capacité (Capacity): Correspond à la puissance des installations électrique ou de transport ou d’autres installations électriques, exprimée généralement en [KVA], kilo-volt-ampère. [20]

Kapazität (Capacity): Ist die Engpassleistung von Erzeugungs- oder Übertragungsanlagen oder anderen elektrischen Anlagen, ausgedrückt in Megawatt [MW] für Wirkleistung oder MegavoltAmpere [Mvar] für Blindleistung. [21]

United Kingdom (UK)

Capacity – is the combination of all the strengths and resources available within a community, society or organisation which can reduce the level of risk, or the effects of a disaster (also known as capability). [22]

Capacity (gas): The amount of natural gas that can be produced, transported, stored, distributed or utilised in a given period of time under network design conditions. [23]

United States

Center for Disease Control
Capacity: The ability of an organization to contribute resources, such as staff time, money, and expertise. [24]

Standard Definition

ISO 22300:2012(en)

Combination of all the strengths and resources available within an organization, community or society that can reduce the level of risk, or the effects of a crisis. [25]

Note: Capacity can include physical, institutional, social, or economic means as well as skilled personnel or attributes such as leadership and management.

Other Definitions


Capacity is the combination of all the strengths, attributes and resources available within a community, society or organisation that can be used to achieve agreed goals. [26]

Capacity may include infrastructure and physical means, institutions, societal coping abilities, as well as human knowledge, skills and collective attributes such as social relationships, leadership and management. Capacity also may be described as capability. Capacity assessment is a term for the process by which the capacity of a group is reviewed against desired goals, and the capacity gaps are identified for further action (UNISDR, 2009).


Capacity is the ability to evaluate and care for a markedly increased volume of patients—one that challenges or exceeds normal operating capacity. The surge requirements may extend beyond direct patient care to include such tasks as extensive laboratory studies or epidemiological investigations. [27]

Academic Studies

The Aspin Institute
Community capacity is the combined influence of a community’s commitment, resources and skills that can be deployed to build on community strengths and address community problems and opportunities. [28]

Chaskin (2001)
Community capacity is the interaction of human capital, organizational resources, and social capital within a certain community that can be leveraged to solve collective problems and improve or maintain the well-being of a given community. It may operate through informal social processes and/or organized effort. [29]

See also


  1. European Commission, Tools and Methods Series - Reference Document no 6 - Toolkit for Capacity Development, EuropeAid, European Commission/ DG for International Cooperation and Development (2010)
  2. Index ENTSO-E Glossary of Terms
  3. ENTSOG Glossary of Terms
  4. Definition of an assessment framework for projects of common interest in the field of smart grids, 2014
  5. FIRST CSIRT Framework Version 1.1
  6. IAEA - Nuclear Security Series Glossary Version 1.3 (November 2015)
  7. ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE CHANGE: KEY TERMS, E. Levina and D. Terpak, OECD (2006) - derived from (UN/ISDR, 2004)
  9. How to Prepare an UNDAF: Part (II), UN Development Group
  10. 2009 UNISDR Terminology on Disaster Risk Reduction
  11. UNISDR glossary
  12. UNISDR glossary
  13. UNISDR glossary
  14. UNISDR glossary
  15. UNISDR glossary in Bahasa
  16. UNISDR glossary in Malay
  19. Disaster Risk Reduction Country Profile for Saint Lucia: August 2012
  20. Swiss Electricity Glossary
  21. Swissgrid glossary
  22. The National Adaptation Programme: Making the country resilient to a changing climate, UK Government (2013)
  23. OFGEM Glossary
  24. CDC Drinking water advisory communication toolbox
  25. ISO 22300:2012(en) Societal security — Terminology
  26. Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Regional Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategy and Results Framework 2014-2024
  27. ICDRM/GWU Emergency Management Glossary of Terms. The Institute for Crisis, Disaster, and Risk Management (ICDRM) at the George Washington University, Washington DC.
  29. Chaskin (2001)
  31. Article