Learning from crisis to build long-term resilience

In the run-up to our webinar on industry resilience on Friday 12 June, we spoke to technical director at the Resilience Shift and one of our webinar panellists, Juliet Mian, about how they are learning from crisis. Helen Civil reports.

The current Covid-19 crisis is highlighting just how critical it is to have resilient, reliable infrastructure networks. The essential services that are front of mind at the moment such as healthcare and food supply, depend on transport, power, digital networks and water. 

The Resilience Shift is focused on the urgent need to improve infrastructure resilience and highlighting the opportunities of recovery to transform infrastructure and build long-term resilience. Dr Juliet Mian, technical director at The Resilience Shift, will be on the panel at next week’s Infrastructure Intelligence webinar, Guarding against the next time – making the industry resilient, part of our “Coming out of Covid” webinar series. 

Mian is a longstanding infrastructure resilience specialist at Arup and leads the Resilience Shift’s technical programme that aims to accelerate the resilience of critical infrastructure. Her area of focus is the resilience of critical infrastructure systems, recognising that resilience is an essential property for infrastructure to be truly sustainable and an agenda that is equally as urgent as decarbonisation.  

“We think about resilience as our ability to prepare for, withstand where possible, recover from and adapt or transform, in response to a sudden shock, rapidly changing circumstances or chronic stress,” says Mian, who cites the National Infrastructure Commission’s recent report Anticipate, React, Recover: Resilient infrastructure systems as a framework that can help all those working in infrastructure.

“The NIC’s framework of Anticipate, Resist, Absorb, Recover, Adapt and Transform is one that we will find ourselves referring to frequently as we all travel through the current crisis,” Mian says. “The importance of decision-making during recovery to make sure that our infrastructure systems do adapt, and do transform to enhance future resilience, particularly thinking about the even greater crisis that climate change threatens, is very immediate, and very urgent,” says Mian.

The Resilience Shift has also defined ten insights into what matters for resilience. These can help all those working across the value chain of infrastructure resilience to think about the factors that will have an impact on their asset or their organisation’s resilience. One, in particular relation to Covid, is that of deep uncertainty. Decision-making in such an uncertain time will be a skill more and more in demand from senior leaders.

To understand decision-makers’ real-time response to crisis and what can be learned from this, the Resilience Shift is interviewing 12 senior leaders from diverse organisations, following their journey over 16 weeks of reflective learning. Seven of the participants are senior executives in large, globally significant corporations including Arup, Lloyd’s Register Group, WSP, SAP, Siemens and the World Bank and five are the chief resilience officers of a major city in Europe, Africa, India, Brazil and the USA, all members of the Global Resilient Cities Network. 

Real-time resilient leadership insights are curated by the Resilience Shift and shared weekly as blogs and through a podcast reflecting on these insights. Participant, Barbara Humpton, CEO of Siemens USA, said: “We say hindsight is 20/20, but what about our vision in the midst of a crisis? This project is documenting the world’s response to pandemic, week-by-week, from the perspective of diverse leaders. The resulting narrative reveals the true nature of resilience as it takes root and grows.”  

The Resilience Shift has also collated Covid-19 resources for those facing the challenges of the pandemic across the infrastructure value chain. The learning from crisis theme has also explored decision-making at the time of Cape Town’s Day Zero crisis through filmed reflections, distilled into structured learning modules. Another has brought together those dealing with the post-earthquake reconstruction of Christchurch and captured their critical review.

Mian said: “We recognise that we have a unique opportunity to learn from current events to improve infrastructure resilience going forward. This also means building the resilience and knowledge in terms of preparation, response or recovery, of the humans who are part of every infrastructure system”.

Click here for more information and booking details for our webinar on making the industry resilient.

Helen Civil is the communications lead at the Resilience Shift.

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