Getting resilience on the agenda

Talking Resilience with Seth Schultz

Happy new year to all our friends and colleagues worldwide. This January, I celebrated my first anniversary of joining The Resilience Shift, and what an extraordinary year it was.

It can be difficult to communicate what we mean by resilience, and how it generally relates to the safety and future security of our world. We have, to date, put the emphasis on critical infrastructure systems and their interdependencies, and many of those conversations have aimed to influence primarily those working with or for infrastructure in some way. But recently the resilience of our systems and societies has become a topic of interest for everyone.

In 2020, the world changed fundamentally with the rise of a global pandemic that has exacerbated uncertainties and existing challenges for humanity. We have seen a worsening of some climate impacts, along with unexpected extreme weather, major crises and disasters, whether flood, drought, fire, extreme weather, landslides, and more. Societies have been affected too by political and economic instability, cyberterrorism, and stark demonstrations of the complex interdependencies of our services i.e. of supply chains. Suddenly the word resilience has a resonance and a meaning that can be directly related by any of us to a life, a business, a community, or the survival of our societies.

We are now more aware that even if all our global efforts collaboratively help us reach net zero, the need to build societal resilience at all levels will be essential for our future safety as the ongoing impact of past carbon emissions continues to grow. The Resilience Shift will continue to align with and support the global agenda on climate action, making sure to add in our voice to keep reminding all players of the urgency to bring resilience and net zero together, not as separate agendas.

I believe that a common interest in, and understanding of, resilience is growing, and in 2020, we engaged with business leaders, city networks, public and private organisations, and the not for profit sector, as well as with our many friends in the global communities of interest in resilience and sustainable development.

While 2020 has taught us all so many invaluable lessons, I am incredibly excited to look ahead to the opportunities that 2021 brings to build upon what we have learned and further scale up our work.

Above all we will continue to be a catalyst for change, brokering partnerships and coalitions for action on resilience. There is a power in getting people talking to each other and collaborating effectively. Our work last year highlighted the benefit of bringing together varied parties across sectors and geographies, the business community with engineering and technical specialists, together with the public sector and NGOs.

I am continuing to tour my Brunel lecture for the Institution of Civil Engineers ‘21st Century leadership is partnership’ which is being delivered across the globe in 2021, working with the ICE to convene expert panels, region by region, to discuss the challenges and opportunities for a step change in engineering. The first event of the year in Hong Kong on 6 January (see write up and recording) was extremely insightful and highlighted the challenges and opportunities for civil engineers in differing global contexts. (See 2021 lecture dates).

We also partnered with our colleagues at Resilience First to deliver a webinar on 12 January, where I hosted a conversation with Shirley Rodrigues, Deputy Mayor for Energy and Environment Greater London Authority. Shirley told us about the city of London’s latest plans to achieve the ambitious target of becoming a net-zero city by 2050.

Looking further forward, we’ll be announcing some exciting news this spring concerning the plans for the growth of our organisation, and initiatives for this year.

So join us in 2021 and keep in touch by following us on twitter / linkedin to get news straight away or by subscribing to our weekly headlines.

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