On 6 March 2024, Resilience First, in partnership with Control Risks, was pleased to convene a private roundtable discussion with the Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP on Navigating our Uncertain World and Building Resilience.

This conversation followed a previous gathering where we explored bridging the gap between policy makers and business leaders, and innovation and regulation, to accelerate resilience best practice. Find a copy of the key take-aways from that discussion here.

The present landscape

The world is marred with conflicts that are shifting our landscape rapidly; nations are becoming more fragmented and polarised, challenging globalisation and inhibiting policy makers’ insights and knowledge to keep pace with the level of change. Our CNI is hugely exposed and its resilience needs addressing; global interests are forcing the UK to get involved in areas of conflict around the world, including securing our supply chains in the Red Sea; cyberattacks are on the increase and AI is facilitating the spread of election misinformation.

What next?

Resilience needs to be driven through visionary leadership from top-down but also encouraged from bottom-up across organisations.

The role of a Chief Resilience Officer was proposed as a governance requirement at Board level to ensure resilience is at the heart of governance – looking at financial and non-financial risks (climate change, cyber, reputation, capacity, people and so forth). Resilience planning and mindsets can be strengthened through more exercises which need engagement from Boards as well as an organisational cultural shift. Insurance can give a false sense of security as it only protects the finances of the business. Securing a corporate budget for organisational resilience can be challenging as it is seen as too broad.

The cost of reaction outweighs the cost of preparedness. Businesses need to advocate more for politicians to focus their attention on the resilience of not only our country but also the fast-advancing digital sphere which goes beyond geographical areas, creating virtual grey zones to contend with. 

Legislation around IP needs to be passed urgently to address the huge increase in infringements that AI is enabling. The Defence Budget needs to be increased to bolster our ability to tackle these threats. Currently there is no direct route for government to address the issue of resilience across departments; this needs to be reviewed.

There is a sense that regulators are reluctant to regulate resilience more broadly, perhaps due to a lack of understanding or commonly accepted definition of resilience. Regulators tend to focus more on economic levers to protect consumers. A clearer standardisation on what resilience means for organisations is necessary to drive more precise and consistent action. The comparison of the effects that post-2008 financial regulations have had on resilience within the banking sector was a recurrent theme.

Resilience creates reliance which should also be accelerated across supply chains and small business which make up the bulk of economies. SMEs have limited bandwidth or resources to invest in resilience and more needs to be done to guide them at government level as well as business or buyer level.

Resilience needs a cross-party approach. Government needs to have a greater conversation with the nation to lead a whole-of-society approach to advancing resilience. Business leaders should be encouraged to enter politics to ensure a greater thrust of expert knowledge in parliament. Interestingly, a recent PWC poll showed that the public have high expectations of the resilience of government and businesses!

Further questions need tackling to drive resilience, such as who owns resilience? How do we break down silos? How do we get leaders (government and CEOs) to prioritise resilience?