Safeguarding is a high priority among UK funders following allegations of misconduct in the aid sector. Our work demonstrates a strong commitment by funders to play a leadership role in to setting tone and expectations around safeguarding in international development research, and to ensure harmonisation of safeguarding practices across the sector.

What is safeguarding?

Safeguarding means taking all reasonable steps to prevent harm, particularly sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment from occurring; to protect people with inherent vulnerabilities from that harm; and to respond appropriately when harm does occur.

Why are we working on this?

The shocking events uncovered in Haiti in February 2018 have shone a spotlight on sexual exploitation and abuse in the aid sector. Although efforts are already being made to tackle this issue, there was a collective request by the SCOR Board for UKCDR to support UK funders of ODA research to develop guidance on safeguarding in the context of international development research.

Our role for this work is to support funders and members of the research community involved in international development research to promote an organisational culture that condemns all forms of harm and abuse, to identify evidence of best practice in safeguarding and to facilitate the development of principles to support joint approaches to safeguarding in this context.

What are we doing?

We have held consultative joint and bilateral meetings with key stakeholders, including UK funders of development research, universities and research institutes. We have also established and convened a safeguarding funders group, and the Safeguarding Expert Advisory Group which comprises individuals from academia and the NGO and private sectors.

Members of Safeguarding Expert Advisory Group

We aim to support funders in going beyond policy and process to drive real and lasting change in organisational culture and leadership, and therefore inclusive and thorough consultation with key stakeholders will be an essential aspect of this work.

Our achievements

This work represents the start of a long-term ambition and commitment by us and by UK funders to ensure real step-change on this issue across the international development research sector.

  • Established Safeguarding Funders Group for UK funders (comprised of the Department for International Development (DFID), the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Wellcome Trust)
  • Established the Safeguarding Expert Advisory Group
  • Issued Research Funders Safeguarding Statement of Commitment in October 2018

UKCDR are currently seeking to commission a supplier to undertake an evidence review as the initial phase of this work. The evidence review will likely comprise a literature review and consultations with key stakeholders to: i) frame the nature and the scale of the problem; ii) identify existing guidance and experience of implementation; and iii) map safeguarding activities of UK international development research funders. Further details here.

If you want to get involved or have any further questions, get in touch via or call us on +4420 7611 8327