The international community has become adept at responding to disasters. When a disaster hits — whether natural or as the consequence of human activity — humanitarian relief can be on the ground almost anywhere in the world in less than 24 hours. The international community has developed an elaborate network to respond to catastrophes involving the collaboration of international agencies, humanitarian relief organizations, national governments and concerned individuals. The collective ability to help save lives quickly is unprecedented in human history; the problem remains, however, that one never knows in advance where disaster will strike, what the immediate needs of those affected will be or what conditions the first responders will confront. Given these uncertainties, how can disaster-response planners best position themselves to take action?

Part of Series

The CIGI-BSIA Policy Brief Series presents the research findings of leading BSIA scholars, developing information and analysis, including recommendations, on policy-oriented topics that address CIGI’s four core research areas: the global economy; the environment and energy; global development; and global security.
  • David A. Welch is a CIGI senior fellow and professor of political science at the University of Waterloo. An award-winning author and scholar, David is an expert in foreign policy decision making and international security, with an emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region. 

  • Andrew S. Thompson is a senior fellow at CIGI, effective November 2014.  A specialist in the fields of international human rights, civil society movements and fragile states, Andrew is adjunct assistant professor of political science at the University of Waterloo and the program officer for the global governance programs at the Balsillie School of International Affairs.