The Royal Academy of Engineering publishes two reports on resilience

Our Member, the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) has recently published two reports that discuss the importance of building and strengthening resilience. 

Building resilience

The Building resilience: lessons from the Academy’s review of the National Secuirty Risk Assessment methodology report outlines principles for good practice and a joined-up approach to risk assessment to enhance resilience. Employing engineering techniques will allow risk owners in the private and public sectors with scenario design, exploration of interdependencies, and building organisational resilience. This report summarises the findings, which fed into the National Resilience Framework published at the end of 2022.

Through case studies and interviews with major private and public sector risk owners, the Academy drew out lessons relevant to risk owners of all types and focused on techniques for scenario design, exploring interdependencies, and building organisational resilience. Seven principles for good practice were identified to help organisations to employ a joined-up approach to risk assessment that strengthens resilience in practice, helping to build toward the government’s goal of “making resilience a national endeavour, so that as a country is we are prepared for the next crisis, whatever it might be”. The seven principles are:

  • Ensure a joined-up approach
  • Encourage participation and communicate clearly
  • Focus on impact
  • Explore the interdependencies
  • Consider a range of scenarios
  • Embed new data and metrics
  • Review based on need

This review has been an opportunity to learn from a diverse range of industry sectors, academia, and government. We are pleased that the review is referenced in the National Resilience Framework and I encourage all those with a stake or responsibility in risk management to reflect upon the extent to which the principles for good practice are incorporated in their risk assessments, and to act upon them.

Professor Joan Cordiner FREng FRSE, led the Royal Academy of Engineering’s review of the NSRA


To find out more about the building resilience report, please visit the RAEng website.

Critical capabilities

The Critical capabilities: strengthening UK resilience report examines how a wider systems approach to emergency planning (spurred on by the pandemic) and capabilities can enable the UK to better prepare and respond to future emergencies, grounded in evidence from past emergencies. While preventative measures can be taken to lessen the likelihood of future emergencies, how well we respond to them depends heavily on the capabilities in place. As the risks of emergencies and threats evolve, as well as the capabilities at the UK’s disposal to respond, it is crucial to consider how resilience can be improved in preparation for future challenges and their uncertainties.

Using an engineering perspective when preparing for upcoming threats is crucial. Engineers play a vital role in making things work and indeed, making things work better. This includes practical design based on user needs, scalability to meet demand, and balancing safety, sustainability, resilience, and affordability of goods and services.

Engineers are trained to develop and examine complex systems. The RAEng believe engineering habits of mind are a vital resource in both chronic and acute emergencies, especially problem finding and definition, creative problem-solving, improving, adapting and systems thinking as well as the habits of collaboration, resourcefulness and resilience. They have the unique ability to be able to bring together a depth of knowledge and expertise on disruptive innovation, technical capabilities, and risk and safety management. With their wide networks the RAEng is well placed to draw on best practice and cross-sector learning. Deploying a systems approach, this project explores the interconnected critical capabilities required to ensure UK preparedness for and resilience to challenges.

We have termed our findings critical capabilities:
the people, resources and infrastructure we draw
on in a crisis to respond, quickly and effectively.
We found that the ability to respond rapidly and
well – to know who to contact, and how to act –
hinged in large part on how well the authorities
had anticipated which parts of this wider system
would be relevant to the emergency in question,
and how well networked they were in advance

Professor Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering


To find out more about the critical capabilities report, please visit the RAEng website.

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