Making science work for development

The Use of Science in Humanitarian Emergencies and Disasters (SHED) Report

13 July 2012

In June 2011, Andrew Mitchell, the Secretary of State for International Development, asked Sir John Beddington to improve the Government's use of science in both predicting and preparing for disasters, drawing on the Chief Scientific Advisers' network across Government. In addressing this request, Sir John commissioned two pieces of work. The first piece of work - The Use of Science in Humanitarian Emergencies and Disasters - is primarily focused on government, and changes to the way government plans and prepares for international humanitarian emergencies.

There are three main recommendations which can be implemented relatively quickly to make a real difference to improve the way government currently uses scientific advice. Two new expert groups are proposed. The first will propose systematic advice to Ministers on emerging international risks, and the uncertainties in assessing those risks. The second will meet when an international emergency occurs and will provide a prognosis for the 'reasonable worst case', based on scientific advice. A further recommendation proposes the establishment of a list of experts who can provide advice on specific hazards when an emergency occurs.

These recommendations will provide stimulus and support to the excellent work already undertaken in collaboration between Government and the humanitarian disasters community. Taken together, they should make significant further improvements to the way science advice is used by the community.

UKCDS will be working closely with its members and its Disaster Research Group to help deliver the recommendations of Sir John Beddington’s report. 

The Government Chief Scientist’s Foresight Group is in the process of preparing a second report for publication in November 2012, looking at 20-30 years ahead, in order to examine future causes and impacts of disasters.

  • Impact
  • Landscape analysis
  • Natural disasters