By Laura Michelon, Marketing Manager, Resilience First

In September, Resilience First led the International Risk and Resilience Conference during the International Security Expo at Olympia London. The conference featured more than ten insightful sessions with dozens of inspiring speakers from diverse industry sectors.

In this article we will delve into some of the most dynamic and thought-provoking conversations that took place at the International Risk and Resilience Conference, and shed light on current global challenges and opportunities. Discussions included Martyn's Law, threats to global supply chains, increased cybersecurity risks and the next big shock that could impact businesses.

One key topic of conversation was Protect Duty (Martyn's Law), a proposed bill aimed at enhancing security measures in the UK to protect against terrorist attacks. The legislation focuses on raising awareness and preparedness among managers of premises and events and promoting effective counter-terrorism security measures to minimise harm and reduce the impact of potential attacks. Speakers in this session highlighted the importance of preparedness and emphasised that larger venues should implement security measures and have comprehensive plans in place. To support businesses in this endeavour, the Protect UK platform offers free information and guidance on threat intelligence and advice tailored to different organisations.

Another interesting panel revolved around the potential threats to globalisation and the need for businesses to adapt. The interconnected risks faced by society, such as climate change and economic instability, deepen political and social divisions and can affect consumer decisions. The speakers stressed the importance of viewing globalisation as multiple mini-globalisations and advised businesses to factor in disruptions and prioritise diversification. The discussion also touched upon the influence of politics on businesses, highlighting the need to closely follow political developments and be prepared for emergencies. Strategic forecasting, risk assessment, stockpiling, and diversification were highlighted as actions that businesses can take to navigate these challenges.

Navigating supply chain resilience was a prominent topic of discussion among industry leaders at the International Risk and Resilience Conference. The panel highlighted the challenges businesses face in meeting increased demand and emphasised the importance of resilience in supply chains. They proposed replacing the traditional "just in time" model with a "just in case" approach, which focuses on the capacity to absorb and recover from shocks. One key takeaway was the need to prioritise the resilience of people on the ground. The panel recognised that a strong workforce is essential for building supply chain resilience and recommended investing in training and development to equip employees with the necessary skills. Additionally, they stressed the urgency of addressing climate change and encouraged businesses to invest in combating it. 

Cybersecurity was another significant area of focus for industry leaders. The panel discussed case studies of cyber attacks on large corporations and underscored the need for businesses to enhance their cybersecurity strategies and tactics. They highlighted various factors that contribute to the worsening cyber threat landscape, including geopolitical tensions, AI advancements, and supply chain weaknesses. The panel stressed the importance of cyber resilience and proactive risk management to prevent and mitigate cyber attacks. They also discussed the growing threat of ransomware attacks and business email compromise, providing insights on how businesses can stay ahead and protect themselves.

The session on Whole of Society Resilience emphasised the need to equip future leaders with the necessary skills and attributes to address future demands and changing landscapes. Concerns were raised about the significant number of young people who are not in education, employment, or training, which has a detrimental impact on their resilience. The session questioned the implications of this for future generations and highlighted the importance of teaching resilience as a skill. The correlation between frequent disaster experiences and the lack of resilience on a global scale was also discussed, underscoring the importance of investing in building resilience at all levels, including across critical national infrastructure. This was further discussed during our session on complex risks in an uncertain world.

A lively debate on resilience standards sparked discussions about the complexity and burden of current standards. One speaker argued for a review and simplification of these standards, highlighting that some existing standards, such as ISO 22 301, are not academically or practically sufficient and have low adoption rates. Another speaker went on to explain that standards are a journey and it's important to understand their aims to ensure they are fit for purpose. It's about common language, common expectations, building trust and codifying best practice.

Lastly, preparing for the next big shock was a consistent theme throughout the conference. Panellists emphasised the importance of national resilience and preparedness in the face of various risks such as war, extreme weather events, and animal illness. They highlighted the new approach adopted by the National Risk Register (NRR), which aligns with the National Risk Assessment and provides accessible information to increase public awareness. The government aims to work collaboratively with businesses, academia, and the public to create a more resilient society. Organisations can use the NRR to test their resilience plans and strengthen their supply chains, using crucial tools such as stress tests and data analytics. The panel recommended that organisations regularly review the NRR for latest updates and consider difficult scenarios to enhance preparedness. Understanding the intersection of different factors and imagining worst-case scenarios were also highlighted as essential components of building resilience.>

Overall, the insights shared by prominent players in the industry provided valuable perspectives on risks and resilience, highlighting the need for businesses to prioritise supply chain resilience, enhance cybersecurity strategies, and continuously prepare for various shocks. These insights can guide organisations in implementing effective risk management strategies and building a more resilient future.

In light of this year's International Risk and Resilience Conference, it is clear that there are several key reflections and projections that businesses and governments must embrace in order to enhance their resilience and prepare for future challenges. One important takeaway is the need to truly understand the depth and duration of disruption, as well as identify the weakest link in the community and address the fear and threat of disruption. The conference also emphasised the importance of communities coming together to address value and risk assessment in building resilience, as well as the crucial role of executive leadership and effective communication in promoting resilience. These reflections provide valuable guidance for organisations and governments in their efforts to build a more resilient future together.