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London mayor launches resilience strategy

The UK capital’s first-ever resilience strategy addresses challenges such as climate change, city safety as well as Brexit and aims to avert a crisis before it happens.

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The strategy seeks to prepare London to recover quickly following an emergency
The strategy seeks to prepare London to recover quickly following an emergency

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has launched the UK capital’s first-ever resilience strategy to help tackle unprecedented challenges such as climate change, city safety as well as Brexit.

 

The London City Resilience Strategy aims to avert a crisis before it happens and prepare London to recover quickly following an emergency.

 

In a separate statement, Khan has urged the Government not to ‘strip away’ vital policies in his new London Plan, the strategic planning document for the capital, which aims to protect the environment, cut air pollution and tackle the climate crisis.

 

Building in resilience

 

The strategy has been developed as part of the global 100 Resilient Cities Project and highlights new threats to the city’s safety and stability, including extreme weather events that lead to flooding and drought. For example, heatwaves put pressure on the city’s transport and electrical infrastructure, making it more vulnerable, and pose a threat to life for those more susceptible to extreme heat.

 

The report also looks at the potential impact of Brexit on London’s communities and businesses, including possible disruption to trade and food supply chains, as well as the availability of workers across a number of sectors including the National Health Service (NHS).

 

The new strategy highlights the impact of long-term chronic stress that austerity has put on the city, hitting key public services such as the police and NHS. The Centre for Cities reports that nearly a decade of cuts has left London’s vulnerable communities less able to cope with disruption, creating further social exclusion, and narrowing opportunities to maintain health and wellbeing.

 

“In times of adversity, Londoners always pull together to overcome hate and hardship and bounce back stronger and more united than ever,” said Khan. “But in the face of unprecedented challenges – such as climate change, the growing threat of cyber-attacks and Brexit – it is vital that we continue to adapt and change to safeguard our city, our communities and the progressive values that bind us together.”

“But in the face of unprecedented challenges it is vital that we continue to adapt and change to safeguard our city, our communities and the progressive values that bind us together.”

To ensure the capital remains resilient, the Mayor’s strategy sets out how London needs to prepare itself for future events. For example, City Hall will work with the British Red Cross, the NHS and local authorities to increase access to first-aid training for Londoners. As members of the public are frequently first on the scene in the event of an emergency, before the arrival of emergency services, assistance from Londoners has proved to be a vital resource.

 

“Building resilience in London is about the ability of all Londoners, our businesses and our communities to survive and thrive no matter what kind of changes or crisis we as a city experience,” said deputy mayor for fire and resilience, Fiona Twycross.

 

“The capital has well-rehearsed responses to major incidents, which have been used to life-saving effect at some terrible events in the past few years, but this new strategy is about addressing the long-term and ever-changing challenges facing London. It’s crucial we have in place the most robust emergency plans to help the whole city flourish.”

 

Examples of how City Hall will work to increase London’s resilience include:

  • Identifying ways to increase food security: City Hall will review the impact on London’s food system from potential disruption during Brexit, and work with the Government and local authorities to improve the capital’s food resilience, by increasing food growing in London and providing support to vulnerable Londoners.
  • Provide first-aid training: working with the British Red Cross, the NHS and local authorities, City Hall will increase access to first-aid training for Londoners, as members of the public are frequently first on the scene in the event of an emergency, and before the arrival of emergency services assistance from the public can be a vital resource.
  • Improve collaboration when responding to a terrorist incident: City Hall will build on collaboration across the city through the Counter Terrorism Preparedness Network (CTPN), and increase the sharing of knowledge and expertise in order to strengthen London’s joint response to terrorism, as well as sharing best practise with cities across the world.
  • Make the most of the city’s green-spaces to help deal with heatwaves: establishing and increasing awareness of parks and green spaces that can provide ‘cool-spots’ accessible to all Londoners during summer heatwaves which are increasing in frequency and severity.
  • Address the threat of drought and reduce water waste: London is prone to drought after only two dry winters and is forecast to have a water resource gap, to address this City Hall will work with water utility companies to identify more efficient use of London’s water supplies and identify initiatives and new technology to increase water recycling.
  • Improve protection against a cyber-attack: 2019 saw an increase in global ransomware attacks, with a particular focus on cities – a risk that is predicted to increase. Working with The Counter Terrorism Preparedness Network, City Hall will improve London’s ability to respond to the consequences of a cyber emergency by increasing coordination between agencies and ensure measures are in place for London’s transport and public services to withstand a cyber-attack.

Meanwhile, the latest version of the London Plan, published by Khan last December, is being scrutinised by the London Assembly. It includes policies specifically designed to ensure new developments – including much-needed housing – can be delivered while also protecting the capital’s much-loved green spaces and tackling the climate crisis.

 

The London Resilience strategy is available here.

 

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