Working with uncertainty to gain more resilience insight

Xavier Aldea Borruel, Head of Operations, highlights progress in the first half of the year and looks forward to next steps.

Halfway through 2020, and with the summer well and truly here in this part of the world, it’s time to take stock of Resilience Shift achievements since the start of the year.

When Executive Director Seth Schultz joined to lead the Resilience Shift in January, we took a pause to reflect on successes to date and ambitions for the future. We listened to feedback from our stakeholders and focused on developing a new five-year plan which builds on our work to date, shaped by our desire to create a safer world through resilient infrastructure.

Building on this momentum, our year started with successful events, such as the World Urban Forum 2020, and with convening activities across the utilities sector. We also continued our production of knowledge products and outreach activities developed in partnership with organisations leading in their fields.

Then Covid-19 hit and, like others, our plans for 2020 and 2021 were shaken. But as we became used to the ‘now’ normal of online meetings and virtual convening, it became immediately clear that resilience was going to become more important than ever, with opportunities for building resilience into recovery activities. Hence, our progress was able to continue and has indeed sped up in some areas.

We had already been looking hard at what we can learn from past crisis – in particular, from Christchurch’s 2011 earthquake (see Report), and Cape Town’s 2018 Day Zero crisis.

Resilient Leadership Logo

This time, the pandemic provided us with an opportunity to capture real-time learning, working with those tackling the challenges of decision-making at such an uncertain time. Hence, we started the Resilient Leadership initiative in April, in partnership with the Global Resilient Cities Network. It has been one of our most insightful pieces of work to date, and our 12 participants have highlighted its value for their own personal and professional development. We will be building on this with other related projects using a similar reflective learning technique, and most likely continuing with podcasts – audiences tell us that the format emphasises the sense of being able to observe close up and in real-time, deeply reflecting on the insights gained.

The shape of our organization is also evolving. We believe that collaborations and partnerships are essential for our work – Hence, in the first half of this year, we have signed a strategic partnership with the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA), and have signed a number of Memoranda of Understanding with new partners.

In an exciting development to bring the voice of engineers to the forefront in tackling climate action, we are one of the founding organizations behind the creation of the International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure. As leader of its Action Track on standards, guidelines and tools, this strand of work promises to contribute greatly to change by incentivising and standardising resilience. In addition, we are working closely with the other three action tracks on financing, innovation, and leadership.

We have also continued to publish new resources and thought leadership in partnership with pioneering voices, through our blogs and partnerships. Peer-reviewed papers include a special article on the resilience of global food supply networks and transportation infrastructure for Cereal Foods World, produced jointly with Lloyd’s Register Foundation. Other publications include “Fostering Resilience-oriented thinking in Engineering Practice” by MacAskill et al., published in Engineering Sustainability (ICE Journal), and “The case for Value Chain Resilience” by Linkov et al., published in Management Research Review.

Virtual convening has taken off across the globe, and we have found it an effective way to bring together stakeholders and hold fruitful discussions. As an example, most recently this July we hosted a round-table with the United Kingdom’s National Infrastructure Commission, convening international infrastructure commissions and national bodies from around the globe to explore the challenges of national infrastructure policy and share learning and best practice as a way to create an enhanced dialogue on these issues.

We are now looking forward to initiating a wide range of exciting new activities over the second half of this year.

Looking at autumn’s events, we are delighted to contribute to The Future of Global Safety, the Lloyd’s Register Foundation Digital Summit, as well as other high-profile events such as the Sustainable Cities Online Summit and the Joint International Resilience Conference.

Port with shipsA new scoping study on the resilience of ports as truly interdependent and digitally connected systems has kicked off, identifying potential collaborations, entry points and challenges, and we’ll be convening interested parties this autumn from across the sector and its end users. We are also working to understand the challenges and opportunities of resilience in the energy sector, considering the big transformational changes arising from the Covid-19 crisis.

Among other outputs planned for the second half of the year, look out for our special paper on post-Covid-19 recovery stimulus packages with the Coalition for Urban Transitions, a final report on the learning from the Resilient Leadership initiative, additional success stories on resilience (following those on ICRG-India and Washington DC) and more activities on learning from crisis to engineer a safer future.

I’d like to finish with a big thank you to all our followers and partners for your continued support. You can continue to follow all our news by subscribing to our weekly blog headlines, or our Twitter and LinkedIn feeds.

A few ‘things we like’ this summer include:

  • The US Transportation Research Board has released two new guidelines for cost-benefit analysis of climate adaptation measures for transportation infrastructure
  • PWC look at the global forces shaping the future of infrastructure
  • These Are the Five Types of Capital That Will Ensure Our Resilience
  • Why Covid-19 Stimulus Needs To Account For Future Infrastructure Risks

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