Professor David C Wilson has advised the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)’s Waste and Resources Research Programme, now called the Waste and Resources Evidence Programme (WREP), since its inception.
Professor Wilson was appointed as chair of Defra’s Waste and Resources Research Advisory Group (WRRAG) when it was first established in February 2004, with the initial brief of advising on the development an integrated strategy for the UK’s waste and resources research over the next 10 years, in order to provide a sound evidence base for future policy making. DCW was reappointed in November 2004 as Chair of a new WRRAG, which was constituted to advise on the first phase of programme implementation, culminating in development of a new 3-year strategy published in September 2007. He continues to provide strategic advice to WREP. He also represents the evidence and research community on Defra’s Waste Stakeholder Group, advising on implementation of the Waste Strategy for England 2007. He co-ordinates a collaborative programme between WREP and CIWM, to support around 15 Masters students each year to prepare their thesis on a topic related to waste and resources policy.
WREP has now delivered some 100 research and other evidence projects since its inception. Further details and access to project reports is available via the Defra website. DCW co-authored a paper in the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers which provided a progress report on the programme over its first 3 years. WREP has acted to some extent as a ‘pilot’ for the development of Defra’s wider approach to evidence and innovation, aiming to put into practice the concept of a knowledge-based approach to policy making (known in the UK as evidence-based policy making (EBPM)). DCW was the lead author of a paper on Using research-based knowledge to underpin waste and resources policy, which used WREP’s experiences as a case study. The four authors were presented with the James Jackson Award for the best paper in 2007, at the CIWM Professional Awards Ceremony on 16 May 2008.
DCW’s current work with Defra builds not only on his national and international work on developing policy and strategy in hazardous and solid waste management, but also on his early work in waste research. For example, in the 1970s and early 1980s, he ran the Waste Research Unit for the UK Department of the Environment (DoE) for six years and wrote two editions of the ‘Gas Works Report’, the first definitive guidance on contaminated land in the UK, for the DoE. In the later 1980s and early 1990s, he also directed major research projects for DoE and the Department of Energy (ETSU) related to landfill and landfill gas; and directed a major 5-year environmental technology demonstration programme for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
As chair of WRRAG, DCW oversaw work to develop the current Defra Waste and Resources Evidence Strategy 2007-2011.
DCW is active in his own research at Imperial College. His current research interests are broad, including informal sector recycling in developing countries; the UK's adaptation to changes in hazardous waste regulations in the 2000s; the effectiveness of policy instruments (e.g. producer responsibility and the Clean Development Mechanism); and waste history / development drivers in waste management.