To mark the launch of the UK Resilience Lessons Digest this week, Lianna Roast, Resilience Knowledge Coordinator at the Cabinet Office Emergency Planning College, provides an overview of the context behind its publication and what we can expect from the first issue. 

Learning and resilience are inextricably linked. In fact, the former typically precedes the latter, making them a critical combination when it comes to realising our ambitions for a more resilient future. For a variety of reasons, however, learning in and of itself does not ensure resilient outcomes. This has been evidenced most notably in the challenges of identifying, implementing, and embedding learning from exercises and emergencies, to increase preparedness and improve resilience. This challenge was recently revisited and highlighted in the report from the House of Lords Select Committee on Preparing for Extreme Risks: Building a Resilient Society, and in the reports of the Public Accounts Committee on Covid-19.

In response, the UK government has committed to ‘undertaking a programme of work at Cabinet Office Emergency Planning College (EPC) to synthesise lessons learned of all exercises and emergencies.’ Building on existing learning structures, this will also help to expedite the sharing of those lessons and support increased coherence on lessons across (not just within) domains.

This commitment to ‘do better’ continues with the UK Resilience Lessons Digest. Commissioned by government and delivered by the EPC, the UK Resilience Lessons Digest draws on a wide range of relevant resources to support the timely analysis and sharing of learning themes and transferable lessons from a range of exercises and emergencies. In doing so, the UK Resilience Lessons Digest is focused on meeting three key objectives:

  • To summarise transferable lessons and themes ​from a wide range of relevant sources.​
  • To share lessons across responder organisations and ​wider resilience partners.​
  • To coordinate knowledge to promote continual improvements ​in doctrine, standards, good practice, training and exercising.

To achieve this, the EPC is working in close collaboration with the Cabinet Office Resilience Directorate, JESIP’s Joint Organisational Learning Team and other existing lesson platforms. We have also been connecting with local resilience partners, academia, and wider communities of practice to support the development of relevant, meaningful, and applied content.

In line with the wider commitment to strengthening ‘whole-society’ resilience, the UK Resilience Lessons Digest was made publicly available on 19th October 2022 on the Cabinet Office EPC website. It is also being actively disseminated across local responder organisations, wider resilience partners, central government departments and industry providers.

Inside Issue 1 ‘Learning Together’, readers will find: an analysis of transferable lessons and learning themes from Storm Arwen; four articles on learning at international, national, regional, and local levels; and two applied insight pieces providing tools for thought and action in response to the lessons we identify. There is also a helpful ‘About the Digest’ section outlining a 6-point vision framework that was developed to underpin its purpose and design, and key principles that will continue to guide onward processes and content. Together, these guiding structures are purposed to ensure the UK Resilience Lessons Digest’s person-centred, collaborative approach, as well as its internal integrity and consistency in delivering applied value in support continual improvements and lesson implementation more generally.

With rising disaster prevalence and such significant quantities of lessons and recommendations frequently emerging, the UK Resilience Lessons Digest is clearly not a ‘one-and-done’ endeavour. As subsequent publications progress, wider learning from public inquiries, reports and investigations will also come into focus. New insights for lesson implementation will be shared, and lessons from the past will be remembered and revisited.

In the meantime, for any who wish to engage further, an open invitation to attend a public UK Resilience Lessons Digest launch webinar will be made available from the EPC shortly. This session will include a live overview of content in Issue 1, and contributions from guest speakers. There is also an open opportunity to provide feedback on Issue 1 content, as part of our ‘do, review, improve’ process.

Looking beyond the publication itself to the wider scheme of work on synthesising lessons, it is also hoped that the UK Resilience Lessons Digest will also act as a springboard into further opportunities for informal lesson sharing, valuable networking, and engagement via the EPC. Whilst the wider learning challenges of course cannot be resolved in print alone, the launch of the inaugural UK Resilience Lessons Digest does certainly mean that a significant programme of work in the national learning arena is now firmly off the starting blocks.

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