The aim of the National Preparedness Commission is to promote better preparedness for a major crisis or incident.
The dramatic impact of COVID-19 shows that our societal structures are fragile. It has demonstrated why nationally and internationally we need to be better prepared to withstand, recover and ‘build back better’ from major disruptions.
In particular, our physical, social and IT infrastructure, along with our economic and financial systems, need to be strong and robust enough, so that in the future we can cope with and adapt to whatever arises.
Pandemic disease has occurred traumatically throughout history and it has been widely recognised as a serious threat in recent years. However, there are many other critical risks on the National Risk Register: for example, widespread power failure; flooding; adverse terrestrial and space weather; terrorist attacks on crowded places or transport; cyber attacks on infrastructure or services; chemical, biological and radiological attacks; and so on. Whilst response plans for these various hazards will exist, as the recent experience shows, these may prove inadequate when faced with the real event, a combination of such events, or something that has not previously been contemplated.
The UK, like any other nation, needs to be better prepared. The Commission’s programme of work is intended to be both strategic , (recognising that what is needed to be better prepared for many shocks is the same whatever the initiating crisis or incident), and practical to encourage comprehensive actions so as to get away from merely “admiring the problem”. Our society and its systems are increasingly complex. This brings many benefits, but potentially creates its own fragilities. The Commission will look holistically at what needs to be done to improve societal preparedness and national resilience.