Resilience goes beyond your traditional emergency management and preparedness: it extends to community capacity building, health, cyber security, business continuity and critical infrastructure.
Today, the word “resilience” is used frequently in many contexts, from community readiness to health to business continuity. Frankly, I am enjoying the resilience buzzword because I believe it says something about our time and place. Strong resilience is sought because today’s adversity is real. The literal meaning of resilience is broad: to have the capacity to recover quickly from stress, challenges or misfortune.
Today, people, communities and organizations must have the capacity to handle adversity in its many forms, to have capacity to carry on in a “normal” state. At Calian we have a unique perspective on resilience because of our diverse business lines. We urge people and organizations to invest in resilience because we have seen the ROI first-hand: failure to rebound from challenges or misfortune bears very real costs – and not only financial.
For resilience in 2019 I would like to make a few predictions and observations. Resilience goes beyond your traditional emergency management and preparedness. In my view, it extends to community capacity building, health, cyber security, business continuity and critical infrastructure.
We witnessed worst-case scenarios this year in California as wildfires wiped out entire communities. While community resilience was big in 2018 -- I predict it will be even bigger in 2019. We witnessed worst-case scenarios this year in California as wildfires wiped out entire communities. British Columbia’s devastating wildfires set a record-high annual burn area
in the province of more than 1.35 million hectares. In the Ottawa region, a tornado ripped through surrounding communities, damaging or destroying approximately 200 buildings and leading more than 2,000 people to register for assistance
with the Quebec branch of the Canadian Red Cross.
These are just a few examples of many events that damaged or devastated communities around the globe this year. Achieving community resilience depends on needs, resources and community involvement. Regardless of size or geographic location, communities must have the capacity to be aware of threats, be prepared to handle them, and respond and recover quickly from disasters or other challenges. When it comes to resilience, the goal is to return the community to as-close-to “normal” as quickly as possible – and to establish a “new normal” that is more resilient than what the community had previously.
The wildfires in Western Canada were concerning for northern, remote and many Indigenous communities. These communities can be disproportionally affected by disasters such as floods and wildfires. First, they are not as accessible for the provision of emergency services. Second, they may lack local administrative and technical capacity, affecting response and coordination capabilities. Third, First Nations may rely more on the local ecosystem for food, resources and cultural well-being – which may become diminished or inaccessible following a disaster.
When the risks are higher, the need for preparedness, response and mitigation planning is elevated. Communities need professional advisory and training services, adapted to their culture or unique circumstances, to help build capacity and enable resilience. In 2019 I expect demand for these services to better reflect community needs.
Health will be central to the resilience story in 2019, as it was in 2018 – particularly mental health. One in five Canadians experience a mental illness or addiction problem annually, according to the Toronto-based Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). I anticipate two big health stories in 2019: mental health and military veterans’ health.
In mental health generally, so much work has been done to reduce the mental health stigma and share important research about the complex links between childhood development, trauma, addiction and mental health. I anticipate these discussions to expand as mental health resilience becomes a key resilience topic in 2019. Access is paramount. Canadians need access to professionals to help them deal with trauma-related disorders and addiction issues, among other top challenges.
Veterans and military family health will again be prominent in 2019. I was very happy to see the Government of Canada single out resilience in Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy, where it emphasizes “well-supported, diverse, resilient people and families.” It was heartening to see Canada’s Defence Policy expand beyond capabilities, recognizing people as a key national resource. What better way to support the resilience of the nation than to support the
health of our serving members, veterans and their loved ones. I expect we’ll hear more about this theme in 2019.
The very people who practice resilience on the front lines during emergencies must also demonstrate resilience. Based on our extensive work with the military, veterans and the RCMP, Calian’s health professionals understand the unique demands and stresses of such vocations. First responders must have access to training and health services that help them cope with stressful incidents and events that they deal with on a daily basis. In parallel, they need training to deal with situations involving people with serious mental health issues. On a personal note, I also feel a need to help society’s most vulnerable. The people most at risk should get the help they deserve – be they first responders, police officers, military veterans or people in Canada’s First Nations communities who may be risk of suicide or self-harm.
The world of cyber security continues to evolve quickly – in terms of both threats and security solutions. The growing threat landscape is leading more organizations, large and small, to recognize that they must be prepared for the next cyber attack or breach. The Government of Canada has clearly identified this priority with its investment in cyber operations and the hiring and training of cyber operators.
Ottawa’s new Canadian Centre for Cyber Security will provide a single window for expert advice and services for governments, critical infrastructure operators, and the public and private sectors, to strengthen their cyber security.
While there are many aspects to the cyber security story, in 2019 I believe the “human firewall” will become better recognized for its effectiveness. Calian’s cyber security practitioners observe that an organization’s people – its security awareness -- continues to be the weakest link. Today, to go without proper cyber security and awareness training for staff is to take on much higher risk. All levels of the organization must be educated and trained on the risks and threats related to data and network security. This “human firewall” provides the best ROI when it comes to cyber security – which is why I predict we will see an increasing number of groups conduct security awareness training in 2019. It is critical to cyber security resilience.
The accident at Fukushima Daichi in 2011 was a harsh lesson for nuclear power plants across the world – and the industry has responded. Over the last few years, nuclear plants have improved their ability to adapt, survive extreme conditions and recover from events. Nuclear plants now own flexible standby equipment that can be deployed to restore the powering or cooling of essential equipment. The toolkit to respond to an emergency also now includes the usual planning and training for anticipated emergencies as well as a more flexible approach to tackle unanticipated, extreme events.
In 2019 and beyond, resilience will be a world-wide concern for the nuclear industry. Nuclear capacity worldwide is increasing steadily, with about 50 reactors currently being constructed in 15 countries, including China, India, Russia and the United Arab Emirates. Given this growth, our nuclear experts at Calian predict resilience in 2019 will involve additional focus on severe accident management guidelines, emergency mitigation equipment, and innovative training solutions involving simulations. Look for these themes to be important aspects of resilience in 2019.
As a final topic for resilience in 2019 I would like to highlight food security – an issue Calian is familiar with through our AgTech products. Population growth is putting upward pressure on world agriculture resources. The Earth’s population is expected to reach nine billion by 2050, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN estimates that food production must grow by 70% to meet this demand.
Around the world agricultural producers will need farmland resilience to ensure their yields remain high. The issue is more acute in developing countries where food security may be an issue. Globally, ag producers have an opportunity to take advantage of technology to improve both yield and revenues –and thereby resilience. We believe there is significant value in using technology to solve issues like the tracking and monitoring of food and agriculture products. These technologies can prevent spoilage, increase traceability and support overall food security. I expect the AgTech story get some attention in 2019.
The above article was originally published December 21, 2018 in The Resilience Post.
Susanne Cork is Director of Business Development for Custom Training Solutions and Emergency Management Solutions at Calian Group. A diversified professional services and solutions company based in Ottawa, Calian employs 3,000 people with offices and projects that span Canada, U.S. and international markets. | [email protected]