ICSU publishes independent mid-term review of Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) programme

ICSU has published the 2016 Review of the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) programme, led by an independent panel whose conclusions are intended to inform the next 3-4 year phase of the program.

The 7-person panel was chaired by Zenda Ofir, see below for the full list of panel members.

Overall, the review concludes that “upon its establishment, IRDR was a well-conceptualized, timely and innovative – potentially even pioneering – initiative in the increasingly important domain of disaster risk reduction.” However, “progress has been slow, and the program foci and results too limited to meet the goals of the Science Plan and the expectations created by the program.”

Reasons for the disappointing results include:

Nevertheless, the review panel concluded that IRDR remains a very worthwhile endeavour, as it maintains a significant niche and comparative advantage that continue to provide a good value proposition for stakeholders, both scientific and non-scientific. “It remains well positioned in an important area of work, and has been making fair progress in spite of significant obstacles.”

The policy relevance of the program has been underscored by the preparation for and adoption of the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk reduction in 2015 by the world’s governments. IRDR played a key role in advocacy for science and the scientific community throughout that process.

The panel singled out two key choices that need to be made if IRDR “is to be more than ‘just another scientific program’”.

First, initiate completely new areas based on newly identified knowledge gaps that present major or intractable challenges for the field. Second strengthen, amplify and accelerate activities around its existing foci, and thus move further in line with the scope and intent of the initial Science Plan.

Key recommendations were:

The report also highlighted lessons for consideration for ICSU as a co-sponsor, given that IRDR’s governance system was based on the work of other ICSU Interdisciplinary Bodies. “The situation experienced in IRDR raises some questions about an approach where the Scientific Committee is the driver of the science, the manager of the IPO (eg defining the overall portfolio of activities, assessing ED performance), and allocator of funds – all while overseeing itself”. A key governance recommendation is to separate the functions of oversight, scientific leadership and guidance and program leadership and management.

IRDR was established in 2010 by the International Council for Science, the International Social Science Council (ISSC) and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), with financial report primarily from the China Association for Science and Technology, a national ICSU member.

Download the full report here.

Review Panel

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