Juliet Mian, Technical Director of the Resilience Shift, gives us her view of November’s highlights.
I really appreciated the thought piece this month by guest blogger Dr Tom Dolan, on the necessity and urgency in both reducing the carbon emissions associated with the UK’s economic infrastructure, and increasing its resilience even in a ‘best case’ scenario of global temperatures reaching 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels degrees temperature increase. This is very topical as COP24 opens in Katowice, Poland.
Considering the latest United Kingdom climate change projections, also published this month, and the recent survey published demonstrating widespread public support for investment in infrastructure, the size of our opportunity, to transform our infrastructure for a sustainable and resilient future, is evident. Conversely, the potential to miss this once in a lifetime opportunity because of a focus on short term issues is very stark. As Tom eloquently says – the conversation has to move away from this being an unaffordable luxury.
Our work at the Resilience Shift is heavily influenced by understanding the value that what we do will provide to the intended end-user. This means that engaging with stakeholders, throughout our activities is essential, because otherwise there’s a genuine risk that we produce content that no-one needs! We’ve held several focused engagement activities this month, including a second workshop on tools and approaches, this one in New Orleans, with the objective of understanding what end-users want. The end-game with this project is to develop or co-develop a repository for resilience tools and approaches, that has a high chance of success, because it has been designed with the users in mind, and is informed by what we know from our engagement will actually make their jobs easier.
A third workshop is planned in London early in the New Year, and we’d like to hear from you if you are either a tool developer or a potential user, who wants to join in the discussion.
Also in November, our round table hosted by colleagues from Cambridge University, focused on the resilience of the ports and logistics sectors. Our proposition is that a common understanding across industry sectors that are part of globally connected systems is essential to enhance resilience. Our round tables are an essential part of our approach, to raise awareness of the resilience challenges across multiple stakeholders, and to help us design further work in this space with the end users in mind.
At present, there doesn’t appear to be a common approach between regulated (for example water, energy, transport) and unregulated sectors such as ports and shipping. This is likely to lead to different outcomes or levels of service across the system, which in turn could lead to cascading failures. The system-of-systems that involves movement of people and goods through ports from origin to destination us highly interdependent and interconnected, but the governance is fragmented. The importance of a common understanding was validated at the workshop, and the potential to transfer knowledge from our work on water system governance is exciting.
Over the next few months, our primer on resilience of the ports and shipping sector, and a global series of meetings around food supply chains and their dependency on critical infrastructure resilience will, we hope, produce some relevant and shareable findings for practitioners in the various industry sectors connected to ports, shipping, food supply, freight and logistics, as well as telling us what to focus on in order to ‘shift’ resilience in practice.
In our monthly round-up, here are some of the things that we found interesting:
- The Resilience Shift attended the Resilience Measurement, Evidence and Learning Conference (MELCOP) in New Orleans where the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced it is to set up a new body to promote resilience, amid growing pressure on the world’s top foreign aid donor to do more with less. We like the fact that it is positioned in a way to ‘do more with less’ as opposed to being an expensive luxury.
- The US Transportation Research Board released a prepublication report of ‘Critical issues in Transportation’, considering the issues and opportunities facing transport in the next 10 to 20 years.
- Our funders, Lloyd’s Register Foundation, and the Open Data Institute recently launched a new data initiative to use shared and open data to improve safety in built infrastructure and society. Ultimately, if more data was shared, openly published and available on our built infrastructure, it will allow for potential problems to be identified and improvements to be made more proactively; this aligns well with the UK National Infrastructure Commission’s report on data for public good – read more about the initiative here.
- Nature Climate Change published a recent paper that indicates that the ongoing emission of green-house gases pose a broad threat to humanity by intensifying multiple hazards. Suggesting that the electricity, transportation and building sectors are at highest risk.
- Another paper in the American Geophysical Union journal has explored the concept of infrastructure as a linked ‘Social, Ecological, and Technological System’ (SETS). This is something that our previous Executive Director, Nancy Kete, was particularly passionate about and as such resonates strongly in our current strategy.
- John Hopkins University and Aecom has published a report on ‘Investing in Resilient Infrastructure’. The report identifies traditional barriers to investing in resilience, investigates best practices for implementing resilience strategies, and provides some general recommendations.