A practical approach to emergency preparedness.
Government leaders increasingly agree that “rare unexpected
events” are now neither rare nor unexpected. Indeed, they
are shocks—more frequent and more destabilizing. One now
follows closely on the heels of another, and multiple events
occur at the same time. For example, the pandemic continued
as the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. Various climate
challenges arose such as severe flooding in France, drought
and bushfires in Australia, water shortages in California, and
extreme heat in China.1 Now the economic fallout from the
pandemic and the war has the World Bank and others
concerned about a period of stagflation.
While governments were exposed to a host of mostly
unforeseen challenges from the global pandemic, they have
captured valuable lessons. Leaders understand where they
need to concentrate their readiness efforts for “future
shocks,” carrying the momentum from rapid, pandemic-
driven innovation into their preparation. IBM, working
through the IBM Center for The Business of Government and
the IBM Institute for Business Value, and in partnership with
the National Academy of Public Administration (the Academy)
and a range of other partners, has launched an initiative to
help government leaders further identify those core capabilities
critical to building resilience.
Collaborative action to address anticipated threats requires
focus and cooperation across a broad ecosystem of partners
and stakeholders. Each step forward helps build progress
toward addressing major national and international priorities,
including the Grand Challenges in Public Administration put
forth by the Academy.
Over the coming months, we are convening a series of international
roundtable discussions with global leaders from across
the public, private, academic, and nonprofit sectors to capture
lessons across six key domain areas:
- Emergency preparedness and response
- Supply chain
- Workforce skills
- International cooperation.
In each of these domains, insights from the roundtables will
be used to identify strategies and solutions for governments
to address the challenges that lie ahead. We plan to leverage
previous work that captures wisdom from past experiences,
such as the IBM Center for The Business of Government report
published in 2021 on lessons learned from COVID-19.4 And
then we will critically apply this knowledge to the future by
identifying a set of practical and specific recommendations for
The roundtable series began with emergency preparedness
and response just as Hurricane Ian was forming in the
Atlantic Ocean. In fact, some of our guests could not attend
the roundtable and instead were leading preparation for the
hurricane’s landfall. The destruction from Hurricane Ian and
the other disasters of the past few years underscores the
criticality of renewed investment in national and subnational
resilience to help governments cope with the increased
frequency of regional and global rapid-onset events.
Emergency preparedness and response can—and must—
be improved to withstand the threats of today’s world.