Europe moves to better integrate resilience

The European Union has held its Third Civil Protection Forum where  more than 500 people heard Stavros Dimas, European Commissioner for the Environment, set out his vision for a resilient Europe.
Over the last two decades, the number and severity of disasters has increased significantly. This trend is expected to continue - and as a result of climate change we can anticipate an increase in heat waves, storms and heavy rainfall. These changes in weather patterns will increase our vulnerability to events such as forest fires and floods.
These changes are already happening and the results are only too visible. Earlier this year forest fires circled Athens. In the last week we have seen unprecedented flooding across England and Ireland. The Irish flooding has been described by John Gormley, the Irish Minister for the Environment, as a ‘once-in-800-years’ event. But as the climate changes this type of event could become common place.
Every disaster is a human tragedy. Each year many people are killed and many more face severe disruption to their daily life. As well as the devastating cost to human life, the financial costs are also high. Disasters cost Europe €15 billion each year. Last week's floods in England have already cost an estimated €100 million.
For all of these reasons, there is an urgent need for Europe to develop its civil protection capacities to deal with increasing levels of risk. We need to develop a society that is more resilient to disasters – whether they are natural or man-made.
A more resilient Europe will require Member States to develop their own national business continuity and resilience capacities. But it is clear that these national efforts can be much more effective when complemented by action at the EU level.
When faced by a major disaster, the pooling of resources from different member states results in a common European response that is more effective than any member state could deliver on its own. These joint efforts can also be more cost-effective since individual governments no longer need to purchase equipment to deal with every possible disaster.
Working together also improves coordination - which is an essential element in any effective response. It is natural for governments to offer support in order to show solidarity with the victims of natural disasters. But, without clear coordination, there is a risk that assistance will be duplicated or that what is sent will not meet the real needs of the affected region. The best intentions need to be structured if they are to be effective. And the Community Mechanism allows the right assistance to be delivered to the right place and with the minimum delay.
The logic for developing a disaster management and business continuity policy across Europe is clear and compelling. In a recent EU survey, 90 percent of those questioned thought the EU should do more to provide support for Member States with disaster management.
This understanding, that by working together we can achieve more than by working alone, is why the last five years has seen the reinforcement of civil protection at the EU level. The Community Civil Protection Mechanism has developed into a strong tool that now handles over 20 emergencies per year. We are cooperating increasingly with international partners such as the United Nations.
The European Commission's Monitoring and Information Centre has become a central hub for European disaster response. The professionalism and dedication of the MIC team is outstanding and has contributed to the added value of the Community Mechanism in managing emergencies both inside and outside Europe.
Since 2007 we have been working hard to implement the new legal framework adopted by the Council, which has strengthened the Mechanism's tools as well as given us new opportunities to co-finance the transport of assistance and to develop readily available modules of civil protection equipment.
A number of these specialist modules have been established to respond to emergencies more quickly. This approach ensures that the European response is swift and that European teams have experience in working together.
With the support of the European Parliament, we were also able to make two fire-fighting planes available this summer to help Member States fight forest fires. The two planes conducted operations in France, Greece, Italy and Portugal and this tactical reserve is a great example of European added value in responding to natural disasters.
To improve our response capacity, we are also looking at the possibilities to develop an EU Rapid Response Capability that would ensure that key resources and essential equipment are always available to form a part of the European response.
In addition to emergency response, prevention policies are an essential part of a holistic approach to civil protection. Following a policy document that was adopted last year, the European Commission is currently in the process of developing a Community approach that can contribute to national prevention efforts.
A starting point will be to improve our information about disasters and their impacts. To do this we are developing guidelines on risk assessment and risk mapping. We are also drawing up an inventory of existing sources of information on disasters. Data on the economic impact of disasters, for example, is likely to be an important tool for assessing the costs and benefits of prevention measures.
In order to share ideas and information between stakeholders we are setting-up a European network for disaster prevention.
There is also a clear need for better communication activities aimed at the general public. A recent survey on Civil Protection showed that only one third of EU citizens are aware of their own country's policies on Business Continuity, disaster prevention, preparedness and response. Even fewer – around 15 percent of citizens – feel informed about policies at EU level.
The European Commission already has a strong role in coordinating and linking the key players in disaster management and we can build on this in future.
In the coming years, the EU will need to develop a disaster management strategy to complement Member States' disaster management plans. In order to improve Europe's resilience, this strategy will need to be comprehensive and cover prevention, preparedness and response.
This is an ambitious objective. But the changes that will be brought in by the Lisbon Treaty - which will come into force in less than one week’s time - mean that it is a realistic level of ambition.
The new Treaty will provide a specific legal basis for civil protection. It will mean that decisions will be taken by qualified majority voting. It introduces a solidarity clause and an obligation for Member States to assist each other. And finally, the Treaty enhances the role of the European Parliament - and by doing so it will allow the opinion of EU citizens to be better reflected in shaping EU policy.
The frequency of natural and man-made disasters is increasing and climate change, the greatest threat facing our planet, will make this worse. To deal with these threats we need to further improve the capacity of our civil protection forces. And one important way in which to do this will be to develop the ways in which European-level action can complement national responses. The next Commission will have the opportunity of building on the good work of the last years and making sure that European civil protection authorities have the right tools at their disposal to react to any type of emergency situation. It will also be faced with the challenge of building effective prevention policies.


Securing premises: advice to keep your business safe

In recent years an increasing chunk of companies’ corporate security or business continuity budget has been spent on maintaining back-up sites where data can be stored or from which the business could be run in an emergency.

However, security consultants point out that risk management begins at home with measures to safeguard company headquarters, branches, factories and greenfield sites.

For new buildings, once the nature of the risks to the business has been assessed, this means careful planning of the layout and configuration of the site or office and security professionals should be part of the process.

IT managers need to think about the effects of Avian Flu too!

Gartner has warned IT managers to update their business continuity plans in light of a possible outbreak of bird flu.

The analyst firm's report, Key Steps to Prepare for a Possible Avian Influenza Pandemic, stated that IT managers should make plans to keep the business running in the event of an outbreak.

Companies struggle to find balance for terrorism insurance

Hundreds of actors found themselves hired for an unusual performance earlier this month - faking illness. The actors, part of the USA's largest ever terrorism drill, played people suffering from the effects of a biological agent.

IBM launches Resilience Program Assessment service

Conitinuity Forum partner
Maintaining business continuity was once viewed in the context of maintaining disaster recovery plans. Today, however, you must address the entire range and level of your company's exposures, including IT disruptions, sudden competitive moves, customer and consumer demands, security threats, market fluctuations and failure to comply with numerous government and industry regulations.

Continuity Planning ... a lesson from the US Army?

Building a learning culture to help performance, preparedness and resilience
Operations Orders are issued in the US Army to enable the co-ordinated execution of an operation, so why not use a similar procedure in your organisation?
The professional definition of BCM is “Business Continuity Management is a holistic management process that identifies potential impacts that threaten an organisation and provides a framework for building resilience and the capability for an effective response that safeguards the interests of its key stakeholders, reputation, brand and value creating activities". 
However, there is another older usage of the word Continuity, almost exclusively used by the US Army.

ISO Looks into Standards for Crisis Management

ISO technical committee meeting pulls input from 70 delegates 
ISO considers development of standards for improving crisis management ISO is looking at the development of standards to improve crisis management in anticipation or in the face of major disasters, either natural or man-made, to mitigate their effects. 
Some 70 delegates from 30 countries, including 12 developing countries, attended the first meeting of ISO technical committee ISO/TC 223 since its scope was expanded following recent recommendations by ISO’s Strategic Group on Security.

IBM launches Resilience Program Assessment service

Maintaining business continuity was once viewed in the context of maintaining disaster recovery plans. Today, however, you must address the entire range and level of your company's exposures, including IT disruptions, sudden competitive moves, customer and consumer demands, security threats, market fluctuations and failure to comply with numerous government and industry regulations.

To fully address these exposures, today's risk management, business continuity, crisis management, and security professionals need to focus on business resilience, believes IBM Business Continuity and Recovery Services. Business resilience is the ability to rapidly adapt and respond to risks, as well as opportunities, in order to maintain continuous business operations, be a more trusted partner, and enable growth.

Managing resilience means bringing together high availability, recovery, continuity, compliance and security management practices to help enhance return on investment and limit interruptions. To help you understand and measure your organisation's end-to-end business resilience program maturity against industry-leading practices, IBM has developed a new service - the Resilience Program Assessment.

The process guides you in determining best-practice management goals for business resilience and provides you with prioritised recommendations in the form of an action plan to move your business resilience program forward.

The Resilience Program Assessment enables companies to:

* Measure current continuity and recovery programs against business continuity and disaster recovery industry best practices;

* Establish a focused approach to building and strengthening resilience programs;

* Receive guidance on establishing a centralised governance model to help increase the efficiency of the management of the business resilience program;

* Identify, quantify, and monitor risks to business resilience on an ongoing basis.

For more information see HERE!

To find out more about how the Continuity Forum can help your organisation plan for and address a wide variety of Business Resilience and Continuity issues, please contact us directly HERE! or on 020 8993 1599.


London recovers and starts returning to normal

After a terrible series of events, the spirit of the capital remains unbowed, but there will still be lessons to learn.

The widespread disruption caused travel chaos in Central London with many resorting to walking for many hours to get home.

Schools were open late to allow parents time to get home resulting in many Shops and Offices closing for the day. Travel is likely to continue to be affected during the day as people assess and reflect on the day’s events, but London is well on the way to resuming Business as Usual.

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