Governments and public sector entities in 2020 are responsible for responding to a variety of increasingly interconnected risks, from the consequences of climate change to the economic fallout catalyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Guy Carpenter’s subject matter experts are actively following the evolution of different risk factors across a wide range of sectors, and can provide advisory services on how to respond to nation-level crises. Marsh & McLennan Advantage’s new report, Building National Resilience, explores how a capabilities-based approach is important for ensuring adequate crisis response, and several leading economies are currently analyzing the adequacy of national capabilities (whether centrally or locally situated) to address the common consequences of priority hazards and threats.
The effort includes exploring the capacity of emergency services to respond to defined crisis scenarios and the scale or type of event that would overstretch them. Subordinate challenges range from the ability to deploy the right technical expertise in specialist crises (chemical or biological, for example) to the speedy recovery of essential services (such as power, water, and communications) following extreme weather events. Assessments should also acknowledge the scope for leveraging volunteer enthusiasm, which often proves invaluable in the aftermath of disasters.
Well-founded, well-coordinated, and well-communicated crisis response arrangements are vital for both delivering effective solutions and securing public confidence. Decision makers must demonstrably engage with expert intelligence; optimistic viewpoints should be challenged hard by contrarian perspectives and standard plans by the exploration of possible second- and third-order effects. Regular updates should establish authoritative sources of information in the face of misinformation and disinformation that may be spread through social media. While leaders should not fear adjusting response strategies in the light of new information, they will be more convincing if they do so within the context of a clear set of principles or framework.
Impacts that cascade across sectors and dependencies that cross national jurisdictions can be particularly difficult to anticipate. Crisis management drills (whether tabletop or on the ground, and sometimes with the participation of national leaders) can deepen trust between different participants and indicate where operational interfaces, protocols, and information flows may need refining.
Guy Carpenter is fortunate to be able to collaborate with Marsh & McLennan Advantage and other Marsh & McLennan businesses Marsh and Oliver Wyman, in building an understanding of how the public sector can mount an effective, unified response to unfolding crises.