The focus of the NPC is – as the name suggests – on preparedness.  This is a concept that has a distinct meaning and implications that reach far beyond the narrower fields of risk management and resilience.

Preparedness (noun):  The state of being ready for something to happen, especially for war or a disaster. [Collins Dictionary]

In our context, preparedness is a state in which the UK has the right mindset, capabilities, information and governance structures to deal with adverse events – whether foreseen or unexpected.  Resilience measures can only mitigate the risk or consequences of a disaster. They do not eliminate them.  There will always be a residual risk.  We have to be prepared this, for those measures to fail or to work differently than expected.  We need to be prepared for failure.

National preparedness can be enhanced in multiple ways, and we believe balanced progress is required in all of these areas:

  1. A shared understanding of what matters to our society – not just in terms of Critical National Infrastructure (CNI), but also the utility of that CNI and the other key structures that underpin our daily lives. Knowing what is essential and what we value most means we can prepare to protect, defend, repair or replace it.
  2. Robust and up-to-date assessments of threats, risks and vulnerabilities, that lead to increased investment into preparedness measures. Such measures are likely to be focussed on either avoidance (acting to prevent occurrence), (reducing the likelihood or impact of a shock), or response (responding to and recovering from a shock).
  3. A shift in culture and national attitudes to value preparedness as a priority and a critical factor in national defence and security. This means a focus on capacity-building and education that enables self-reliance. It also requires an acknowledgement that preparedness is a society-wide responsibility requiring the willing participation of citizens, institutions and the machinery of the State.  Government can only do so much.

Preparedness (as distinct from resilience) is an area into which too few studies, policies and practitioners venture, and our goal is to remove the barriers to entry, and promote better understanding of what preparedness is, what it means to the UK, and how it can be achieved.

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