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Conference Report

Commentary, 12 October 2007
Domestic Security, Europe
RUSI’s fourth annual resilience conference took place on 19-20 September 2007, supported by a diverse cast of speakers, perspectives and issues. The conference was framed around the idea of ‘delivering resilience’ and, to this end, sought to explore the themes, policies, mechanisms and organizations that are central to delivering resilience for the UK.

RUSI’s fourth annual resilience conference took place on 19-20 September 2007, supported by a diverse cast of speakers, perspectives and issues. The conference was framed around the idea of ‘delivering resilience’ and, to this end, sought to explore the themes, policies, mechanisms and organizations that are central to delivering resilience for the UK.

The conference was opened by a challenging and provocative panel session involving Sir David Omand, former UK Security and Intelligence Coordinator and Permanent Secretary in the Cabinet Office, and RUSI’s Director, Professor Michael Clarke. The session provided foundational thoughts on the nature of resilience, its potential role in modern society, and recognition of the moral and social components of ‘delivering resilience’. Bruce Mann, Director of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat, built on these areas to provide an overview of the current position of the UK’s resilience alongside future areas to be addressed, including an increased focus on post-incident recovery and greater engagement at community levels.

The agencies and bodies that are active in resilience, ranging from the Health Protection Agency, the Environment Agency, MOD, Regional and Local Authorities and Voluntary Sector in the form of the Red Cross, were given the opportunity to present their own specific approaches and challenges. Debby Reynolds, the Government’s chief vet, negotiated her way between Foot and Mouth COBR-A meetings to give an up-to-the-minute assessment of crisis management and the Government’s wider environmental resilience approach. This was complemented by Nigel Lightfoot of the Health Protection Agency who provided an analysis of the Litvinenko affair and the many lessons that had been identified, not least the importance (and sometime difficulties) of co-operation between diverse agencies. Ace Dann, Emergency Planning Officer for North Norfolk District Council, was able to give a highly insightful description of ‘on the ground’ resilience activity planning and delivery, and the challenges of placing these efforts within the wider UK resilience context. Kathy Settle, Head of Regional Resilience in the North West, not only expressed the important role of this middle tier of resilience but was also able to describe important national initiatives she has undertaken in the area of post-incident recovery with particular reference to her Carlisle floods experience.

The role and importance of the private sector with regard to resilience was explored in presentations by Lord Levene, Chairman of Lloyd’s of London, and Melvyn Smith JP, Chairman of the Civil Nuclear Police Authority. The key theme of collaboration and cooperation resonated through these contributions and was emphasized, alongside the complex interdependency of modern society, in the presentations by Dr. Lee Bosher of Loughborough University and John Taylor of Castra Consulting.

The community and social dimension of resilience appeared throughout the conference and received special treatment during a session entitled ‘Community Approaches Towards Resilience’ which enjoyed contributions from Susan Scholefield of the Department of Communities and Local Government, Linden Rowley of the Institute for Community Cohesion and Paul Hendy of the National Flood Forum. Following this theme, Terry Waite, as the closing keynote speaker of day one, was a particular highlight of the conference emphasising, as stated by the session’s chair, Bruce Mann, that ‘resilience starts and ends with people’. The presentation provided a powerful and moving account of his kidnap experience and challenged the conference to consider how this unique trauma could be applied in ‘delivering resilience’. Extracts from Terry’s speech will appear in the December issue of Monitor.

The conference was a resounding success and was aided in this regard by its sponsors, CNI Scan, Hyder Consulting, DUOS Technologies and Steelhenge. RUSI’s fifth annual resilience conference will take place on 1-2 October 2008. The interim period will allow the opportunity to develop the many themes and issues that were examined at the 2007 event. RUSI welcomes feedback and engagement on any and all of the topics discussed above and on the wider resilience agenda.

Please click here to view presentations made at the conference.

Neil Ellis
Head of Resilience, Homeland Security and Resilience Department
October 2007

 

 

The view expressed above are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of RUSI

If you are interested in discussing RUSI’s resilience programme further, or would like further information on sponsorship opportunities for future resilience events, contact Neil Ellis, Head of Risk and Resilience. (neile@rusi.org)

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