Needless to say, the HF Team wishes you and all our readers a fulfilling, rewarding and fun 2020! Last year much of our work focussed on innovation and new forms of collaboration. In this new year, these themes will continue because of their ever-increasing importance.

While ‘hope springs eternal’, this year continues to point towards challenges which are potentially existential. The bushfires raging along Australia’s New South Wales and Victoria coastlines is but one example. There are others – many climate-related, but also increasingly resulting from misused technologies.

However, we would like to suggest that those who have to anticipate future crises can benefit in very positive ways by important training initiatives, enhanced technologies and a very positive attitude of the corporate sector towards crisis preparedness and response.

One initiative that we would like to flag is the Electric Infrastructure Security Council’s (EIS)’s efforts to deal with what it calls ‘black sky hazards’. Such hazards are those which severely disrupt national and international resilience planning and training for dealing with complex, large scale catastrophes. In 2019, 11,000 people spanning nearly 2000 organizations and government agencies from 43 nations participated. How well prepared are we, asks the EIS, for dealing with a catastrophic event that severely disrupts the normal functioning of our critical infrastructures, including the impacts of a major loss of electricity supply, food supply, finance and beyond?

In collaboration with the firm, Resilience Shift, the EIS has developed EARTH EX. It is intended to be a multisector global resilience exercise that takes place online. It simulates a ‘black sky’ scenario where disaster strikes and electric power is lost, causing cascading failures across power grids, cities, countries, and across the infrastructure systems that protect and connect us, and provide our critical services – water, energy, transport, telecommunications.
The resilience lessons learned are available in the EARTH EX III 2019 report, launched in December, and can be obtained via resilienceshift.org.

If you want clear and positive ideas about how to prepare for the future, take a look at the objectives, perspectives and methodologies that frame the EIS at www.eiscouncil.org.

If you want to further strengthen your own organization’s capacities to be anticipatory, take a look at the Humanitarian Futures Testing the Future Exercise Guide.

 

During the same month that the EARTH EX III 2O19 report was launched, the Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies launched its 2020 Cambridge Global Risk Index. The focus was principally upon the vulnerabilities as well as resilience capacities of 279 cities across the globe. And, with the projected UN forecast that 70% of the world’s population will be urban based by 2050, it is increasingly important for policy makers and planners to have a clear idea about the frequency and severity of future urban shocks when it comes to resilience planning.

The Index can be used for preparing approaches for civic continuity, economic security, and preparedness. In this context it is worth noting that the private sector appears increasingly determined to promote resilience planning that goes well beyond immediate corporate finance and profits.

This more holistic, intersectoral and interinstitutional perspective suggests that the private sector could increasingly, if not necessarily, become major drivers in crisis prevention and preparedness as well as resilience; that publicity-focused ‘corporate social responsibility’ will be replaced more and more by substantive action as a broad-based, more societally-focused resilience player.

PG&E power outages

Power outages in California in response to unsafe power company equipment and wild fire risk.

Many of our cohorts have asked us to suggest some practical ways that they as humanitarian actors can collaborate with the private sector. One answer, we feel, is to take a look again at the HF Tool Kit, and this time take a look at the Ferghana Valley Exercise.

As the year unfolds, the HF team hopes to continue to provide you with a range of suggestions that you may find useful to prepare for humanitarian crises that very unfortunately will be greater in number and complexity. And, should you have any issues that you would like to raise or suggestions that you would like to share, please do let us know.