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Creating opportunities from a crisis

Building back better

Guidance on building back better when disaster strikes.

When COVID-19 struck the world, it was a huge surprise for many, exposing fragilities in systems and organisations everywhere. Those that were prepared for the unexpected, however, generally fared better. Taking lessons learned from the pandemic and international expertise, ISO/TS 22393, Security and resilience – Community resilience – Guidelines for planning recovery and renewal, has just been published.

The technical specification provides guidelines on how to develop recovery plans and renewal strategies from a major emergency, disaster or crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes how to identify the short-term transactional activities needed to reflect and learn, review elements of the system impacted by the crisis and reinstate operations.

Duncan Shaw, Project Leader of the group of experts that developed the document, said that when any crisis occurs, most organisations just want to get back to normal as quickly as possible. But in doing so, they could miss valuable opportunities.

“Major disruptions can be a catalyst to address some significant underlying issues and make important strategic changes,” he said.

“Recovery is just the beginning. Renewal is where relationships are built, shortcomings and vulnerabilities are addressed, and inequalities are remedied. It’s about reshaping operations to build resilience over the long term.”

Duncan added that work on the guidelines began in the early months of the pandemic, and its development involved dozens of interviews and discussions with experts and various stakeholders from all over the world. The result is international best practice drawing on real-world experiences that aims to support local and national organisations as they deal with COVID-19, and beyond.

“It will encourage an important change in mindset from just “recovery” to “recovery and renewal”, which will serve to enhance resilience in the communities where it is used.”

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