COVID-19 Committee highlights need for a long-term approach to resilience and wellbeing
The House of Lords COVID-19 Committee has argued that a drastic overhaul of the approach to resilience and preparedness, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, is needed to ensure we are ready to face future disasters.
The Committee adds that the biggest challenge, for both the Committee and the world, is that the impact of the pandemic on individuals lives, communities, and society as a whole, is far-reaching, profound and permanent.
The report states that, as we are still facing new COVID-19 variants, fluctuating daily death rates, hospitalisation rates and case rates, it seems too early to predict how the economic and social consequences of the pandemic will unfold in the future.
Moreover, it has been impossible to fully unravel the impact of the pandemic from other changes driven by technology, demography, climate change and shifting global powers.
According to the COVID-19 Committee, the pandemic has shown that the current understanding of resilience and preparedness is not fit-for-purpose. As we prepare for more frequent systemic shocks in the future, a focus on robust supply chains and critical national infrastructure alone will not secure the national resilience we need.
The report suggests that the pandemic has shown that national level resilience is undermined by financial inequalities and health inequalities, which are often exacerbated by racial injustice.
To be resilient, there must be a strong social capital and community connection within, and between, diverse communities, higher levels of social and economic equity, and resilient and adaptable public services.
Therefore, the Committee argues now is the time to reconsider the role and purpose of the state. The report outlines its proposal to reset the state by placing a new emphasis on government for the long-term and new focus on wellbeing.
The Committee wants to see a new resilience agenda that addresses inequality, digital inclusion and public health, and strengthens civil society and the integrity of our information systems.
Such agenda is not merely a programme for the government to enact alone, says the report. Resilience comes from the capacity and capability of non-government actors, from individuals and communities to businesses and charities, to act and mobilise; the Government’s role to enable, support and co-ordinate.
This increased emphasis on resilience must be underpinned by an efficient and effective system of government. Any new system of government must have the wellbeing of its people at its heart.
The report sets out the Committee’s proposal for a Wellbeing State, the purpose of which would be to secure the wellbeing of all of its citizens and tackle those inequalities that hold back specific groups and communities.
It’s only by reaching into every part of our society, and actively engaging with them about the interventions that will improve their wellbeing, that we can improve our resilience.
If specific groups, communities, or neighbourhoods are left behind, not only will we have failed to aim to create an inclusive Wellbeing State, but also failed in our aim to increase resilience, says the report.
We cannot claim to be resilient, until all groups, communities and neighbourhoods are resilient, and continuing vulnerability amongst specific groups, communities and neighbourhoods will make us all vulnerable to the upheavals of the future.
To read the COVID-19 Committee’s report in full, click here.
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