Preparing For The Unthinkable & The Uncertain

We all need to take preparedness and resilience much more seriously. We face the challenges of a volatile and uncertain world. The experience of covid-19 over the last two years has shown how quickly the norms of society can unravel with deserted city centres, businesses shutdown, enforced social distancing and mask wearing. The National Preparedness Commission, although conceived before covid-19 hit, had its first meeting in November 2020 with the central purpose of promoting better preparedness in the UK for a major crisis or incident. The Government has now promised a National Resilience Strategy and has committed itself to a whole-of-society approach. But what will this mean? In essence, we all have to focus on three core questions:

  1. What should we prepare for?
  2. How much preparedness is enough?
  3. And how do we finance the necessary investment?


Lord Toby Harris was made a Life Peer in June 1998 and has been Chair of the Labour Peers since 2012. He stood down from Parliament’s Joint Committee on National Security at the beginning of 2021, having been a member for most of the last decade. He has also been at various times a member of the House of Lords’ Select Committees on Life Beyond Covid, on Democracy and Digital Technologies, on the Olympic and Paralympic Legacy (which he chaired), and on Personal Internet Security.

Outside Parliament, he chairs the National Preparedness Commission (whose mission is to promote better preparedness for a major crisis or incident), and is President of the Institute of Strategic Risk Management. Since October 2021, he has been Chair of the General Dental Council (which regulates dental professionals). He is also Chair of the Fundraising Regulator (overseeing charitable fundraising), and was Chair of National Trading Standards (which is responsible for delivering national and cross-boundary consumer protection enforcement activity) from 2013 to 2021. In addition, he chairs the Independent Advisory Group on Ethics for the National Crime Agency. In 2016 and in 2021, he conducted Independent Reviews for the Mayor of London on London’s Preparedness to Respond to a Terrorist Attack.

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

11:00 - 11:45 BST


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    Lord Toby Harris
    National Preparedness Commission
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    Professor Michael Mainelli
    Executive Chairman
    Z/Yen Group