The number of people at risk from natural hazards and human-induced disasters is increasing. At the same time there is growing recognition that science and technology can potentially make a huge contribution to building people’s resilience to these risks. One of the major challenges for at-risk people and for the humanitarian actors seeking to assist them is how best to unlock this potential. This Network Paper seeks to address this challenge by analysing how formal scientific learning can support decision-making processes amongst people at risk and those trying to support them. Drawing on a series of case studies across regions, disciplines and sectors, it identifies generic learning and key characteristics regarding those forms of knowledge exchange which have resulted in tangible benefits for at-risk people.