Published On: March 29, 2021

The UK Government’s long-awaited Integrated Review was published on 16 March. The 114-page review called ‘Global Britain in a Competitive Age’ sets out a competitive strategy for integrating more effectively the national levers of power in order to regain strategic advantage and influence in both domestic and foreign policy. It claims to preserve the best aspects of the old while shaping the emergence of a new order, and the role that defence and the armed forces will play.

The review describes how the whole of government, including capabilities and international partnerships, can be brought together to shape the international order and protect and champion the UK’s interests and values. This drive towards integration has already informed decisions such as the creation of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

At the launch, the Prime Minister announced the creation of two new cross-government hubs:

  • A Situation Centre, based in the Cabinet Office, which will build on the lessons of the Covid pandemic to improve our use of data to anticipate and respond to future crises.
  • A Counter-Terrorism Operations Centre which will improve the UK’s ability to thwart terrorists, while also dealing with the actions of hostile states. It will bring together CT police, the intelligence agencies and the criminal justice system to co-ordinate the Government’s expertise and resources in a facility to improve the speed of response to terrorist incidents.

The strategic framework of the document has four key chapters: science and technology, the open international order of the future, security and defence, and building resilience at home and overseas. Under the last category, there are three goals:

  • To build our national resilience, so that we are able to reduce the impact of acute shocks and longer-term challenges on lives and livelihoods in the UK.
  • To tackle climate change and biodiversity loss, which require immediate and concerted action worldwide.
  • To build health resilience at home and at the international level, recognising the interconnected nature of our global health system.

In the context of the first goal, the government aims to start developing a comprehensive national resilience strategy in partnership with the devolved administrations and English regions, local government, the private sector and the public. Under this strategy, the priority actions will be:

  • To establish a ‘whole-of-society’ approach to resilience so that individuals, businesses and organisations all play a part in building resilience across the UK.
  • To consider threats and hazards in the round so that it is possible to build national resilience across the diverse range of risks facing the UK.
  • To develop more capabilities – people, skills and equipment – that can be used across a range of scenarios.
  • To review the approach to risk assessment.
  • To strengthen the analytical, policy and operational tools – including the collection and use of data – to better assess cross-cutting, complex risks.

The review offers a set of positive and laudable intentions, as one might imagine. The implementation of the intentions is offered in four pages at the end of the document. The key question will be whether the actions can be translated into positive actions in order to make the real and necessary changes to national resilience.

See the full report here.

(This article also appears on the Resilience First website.)

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