SALIENT: Building a Secure and Resilient World: Research and Coordination Hub

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Mechanical Aerospace and Civil Eng


The geopolitical and geo-economic shifts we are experiencing have stress-tested the national security and resilience of the United Kingdom. The consequences of EU Exit, COVID-19, Russia's invasion of Ukraine and other events of national importance, have coalesced around three global challenges that will shape the future direction of our economy and society; energy security, climate change and cyber security. Our world is characterised by high degrees of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA); this context means that emergencies will be much greater in frequency and are likely to have far reaching consequences for our national economy. It is therefore essential for the UK to ensure adopt a sophisticated and nuanced approach to our understanding and communication of risk.

If we are to enhance resilience and security through improved risk management, it follows that the doctrine of 'prevention rather than cure' should guide policy wherever possible. However, the intractable problem of recognising and quantifying the value of good risk management is omnipresent. We believe that risk management is the antecedent to a robust resilience system; it is the glue which connects central government, the devolved administrations, local authorities, and the private and third sectors.

Risk intelligence is crucial to effective decision-making, this is particularly important in the context of emergency and crisis situations that require government to adopt a radically different 'operating rhythm' and where decisions and actions occur at pace. In response, the 'Government Risk Profession' was launched in 2021 to advance professionalism, effectiveness and efficiency in the way risk is managed.

It is clear that a socio-technical systems approach that recognises resilience as an interacting set of sub-systems at both social and technical levels is crucial to adopting a human-centred approach that aligns will the Integrated Reviews' recognition of the 'professionalism and commitment of the people who contribute to our resilience'

Our proposal for a new coordination hub (SALIENT) to support the UK's contribution to building a secure and resilient world will focus the UK's research effort on national resilience through the lens of human centred systems-thinking. Our five-year programme of research will deliver a portfolio of evidence and insight to support central and local governmental actions and ultimately strengthen the UK's resilience to civil contingencies and threats. Our human-centred approach, informed by a distinctly anthropological perspective, will enable SALIENT to identify and articulate the systemic changes that are needed to strengthen resilience. We know that resilience requires a 'whole of society' mindset; this means organising our social order and government in ways that enhances transparency, leadership and promotes greater accountability. The mere notion of a resilience-focused outlook requires consideration of how we use 'futures' to engage citizens in ways that empower their communities. It follows that the research to underpin this effort must be of the highest quality in terms of originality, methodological richness and impact. SALIENT will provide the means to coordinate research actions across a broad spectrum of disciplines and sectors and deliver evidence that will shape the UK's response to the increasingly complex threat landscape.


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