Making a city resilient: how the London Resilience Group ensures London can survive and prosper
The Risks for Cities
People concentrate in cities because of the opportunities offered by economies of scale and access to increasingly wide, global networks. This concentration of people and opportunity acts as a focus for risk – a disruptive event can have a greater impact in a city than elsewhere. Economic, political and population changes mean that cities face a range of challenges if they are to be places in which to live and work.
Climate change means that some shocks like heatwave or surface water flooding will be more frequent and have greater impact. If cities are to survive and thrive they must manage and adapt to these changes – they need to be resilient.
London has a 2000 year history which shows its ability to survive, prosper and see opportunity in the face of adversity. But past resilience is not an indicator of future prosperity. The city has arrangements in place to rise to the challenges of the 21st century whether these arise from acute shocks like a storm or terrorist attack or long term stresses as a result of social change.
The London Resilience Partnership
The London Resilience Partnership is a coalition of agencies with a shared interest, driven by the arrangements of the Civil Contingencies Act. Members are drawn from the private and public sector and include organisations ranging from the emergency services, local authorities and the NHS to utility and transport providers. In all there are some 175 separate organisations in the partnership.
The partnership defines resilience as an enabler which helps London to survive and prosper. It is demonstrated by the ability of institutions and communities to work together to prevent, handle then recover and learn from disruption then adapt to change.
The partnership works together to:
- Assess risks to London’s resilience
- Enhance London’s resilience through prevention and adaptation
- Prepare, respond, recover and learn from exercises and emergencies
- Help Londoners to be prepared. The London Resilience Group (LRG)
London Resilience Group (LRG) is the centre of excellence which draws the work of the partnership together. The group is hosted by London Fire Brigade and is funded by the Mayor of London and London’s local authorities. It has a secretariat function, managing contact lists and supporting the various coordinating bodies like the London Resilience Forum. But much of its work is focussed on risk assessment, the development of capabilities and supporting a response during an emergency.
The partnership has a range of capabilities (many of which are on our website). A capability includes supporting documents, training and an assessment process. Each capability has a lead agency responsible for its development. As an example, the Metropolitan Police Service is lead agency for our response coordination arrangements. LRG ensures consistency between the capabilities through its contacts with all agencies.
The partnership has enhanced its capacity to learn from incidents and exercises through its lessons protocol. LRG manages a database to help make sure that learning is not lost with the passing of time.
The London Resilience Forum
This work is overseen by the partnership through the London Resilience Forum. The latter was established through the Civil Contingencies Act and is chaired by Dr Fiona Twycross AM, Deputy Mayor for Fire and Resilience. The forum includes representatives from different responding communities including faith, voluntary organisations and the business sector.
LRG provides support to the partnership during an emergency by:
- Helping to decide the necessary level of response across the partnership. This ranges from simple information sharing to face-to-face meetings of a Strategic Coordinating Group. The level of response depends on the scale and complexity of the incident.
- Providing a secretariat to the SCG. This includes advice when needed.
- Supporting the work of London Local Authority Gold who represents and coordinates the response by local authorities during a pan-London incident.
- Supporting situational awareness for local authorities and the partnership by collating reports.
As a centre of excellence LRG promotes the work of the partnership and London through:
- National work, like helping to develop national standards for resilience partnerships or supporting the development of the recently launched BS67000, City Resilience
- Hosting international projects like the Counter Terrorism Preparedness and Societal Resilience Project which supports and promotes sharing of information and learning around community preparedness and resilience between cities in Europe.
The focus of the Civil Contingencies Act is on planning for emergencies. Since 2004 much of the thinking around resilience has moved from emergency planning to longer term resilience. London’s Resilience Partnership strategy acknowledges the risk from stresses like climate change – in many ways the weather emergencies of today may be the everyday events of tomorrow. London is part of the 100 Resilient Cities initiative and the Deputy Mayor for Fire and Resilience is taking a holistic view of the challenges that the city may face to start developing ways of addressing these now. The focus of the work is London’s people, infrastructure and governance and a Resilience Strategy for London will be published in 2020.
London Resilience Group is pleased to take its place at the centre of resilience work in London. To find out more please visit www.londonprepared.gov.uk
London Resilience Group, London Fire Brigade
See further articles on resilience, business continuity and emergency planning in our Risk Management archive, in particular: