Resilience and Action
Communities need to prepare for climate-induced emergencies.
In recent years AMBS has been at the forefront of helping cities and local governing authorities to become more prepared for climate-induced disasters.
In particular through the promotion of a global standard for disaster volunteers, and a specific session at the Manchester Festival was chaired by Professor Duncan Shaw who has been leading this work.
As he said: “Across the University we have been talking a lot about the need to build capability within our communities. What that means is enabling communities to be able to respond to major incidents and emergencies. For instance here in the UK one of the highest risks on our national risk register is major coastal flooding and that will be affected by changes in our climate.
“As an international community we are very vulnerable to disaster risks and as a result we have to take action to address those risks. We need to constantly remind ourselves that more needs to be done.”
Professor Shaw took the opportunity during his session to discuss the recent launch in the UK of the National Consortium for Societal Resilience [UK+], which he co-founded, and which brings together local government authorities to develop new ways of engaging communities in building their own resilience.
House of Lords report
Aside from the Manchester Festival, Professor Shaw was also recently cited in a major report on how the UK can better build resilience and plan for risks.
The report from the House of Lords Select Committee on Risk Assessment and Risk Planning ‘Preparing for extreme risks: building a resilient society’ follows on from evidence Professor Shaw gave to the Committee last year.
The report says the pandemic has placed a spotlight on the government’s planning for the most serious risks facing the UK and has exposed the UK’s risk management system as “deficient and too inflexible to provide the protection our nation needs”.
For instance, it says the risk of the failure of ageing critical infrastructure such as nuclear power stations, dams and bridges grows day on day without sufficient intervention. In the report Professor Shaw is specifically cited in a chapter which discusses how the UK population is not widely engaged in building resilience and planning for risks. It quotes Professor Shaw saying: “We need to take a strategic approach to supporting communities, to supporting the public to prepare for and respond to emergencies, given that the public are usually the first to arrive at and the last to leave a disaster.”
We must assess and strengthen our national resilience to ensure that we are better prepared for the next crises.
The House of Lords report stresses that a pandemic is only one of many risks facing the country. But it says it offers a unique opportunity to take stock of the UK’s risk assessment and risk management process. “We must assess and strengthen our national resilience to ensure that we are better prepared for the next crises,” it says.
Echoing the founding values of the NCSR+, the report says the UK must adopt a whole of society approach to resilience, one which emphasises the important role played by all sections of society in preparing for, adapting to, and recovering from the effects of risk.
Reflecting on the report, Professor Shaw said it raises the ambition to enhance whole-of-society resilience. “Through the NCSR+, local governments are working to collaborate even more closely with their local communities and organisations, and with each other, to pursue this national endeavour. Everyone has a meaningful part to play in the resilience of our society so collaboration is key across whole-of-society actors."
"As an international community we are very vulnerable to disaster risks and as a result we have to take action to address those risks. We need to constantly remind ourselves that more needs to be done."
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