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Crisis Response and Disaster Resilience 2030: Forging Strategic Action in an Age of Uncertainty (FEMA - USA)

Code: D15

Primary project information

Lead: FEMA - USA
Type of activity: Progress Report Highlighting the 2010-2011 Insightsof the Strategic Foresight Initiative
Date conducted: 2012
Date of Publication: 2012
Duration: N/A
Summary: This report presents the findings from foresight efforts thus far, including: uncertainties that define and drive the future environment; strategic needs and gaps our community will have to address; a look into the emergency management community of 2030; and finally, suggested next steps for the community to prepare for the future. The strategic needs in particular – grouped into Essential Capabilities, Innovative Models and Tools, and Dynami Partnerships – are intended as a catalyst for leaders throughout the emergency management community to prepare themselves and the Nation for the challenges and opportunities the future holds.
Financed by: FEMA
Budget: N/A
Research area/market/industry/sector: security
Main report (full title): Crisis Response and Disaster Resilience 2030: Forging Strategic Action in an Age of Uncertainty (FEMA - USA)


Economic Challenges: Collectively, these four key economic and political drivers— Global Interdependencies/Globalization, Government Budgets, Critical Infrastructure, and the Evolvingt errorist Threat—will have significant impacts on the future of emergency management. (Final rep.p.9)
Economic Challenges Shortlist: main economic and political drivers: Global Interdependencies/Globalization, Government Budgets, Critical Infrastructure, and the Evolving Terrorist Threat;
Societal Challenges: One of the major areas of uncertainty surrounds the evolving needs of at-risk populations. As U.S. demographics change, we will have to plan to serve increasing numbers of elderly and limited and non-English speaking citizens; the possibility of massive numbers of pandemic victims; physically isolated populations (by choice, or because of some form of disaster); technology have-nots; migratory populations inside and outside our borders; and large numbers of homeless or destitute people, among others. It will be crucial to engage these communities as future challenges strain our community’s resources and capabilities. (FInal rep.p.2) Inevitably, in this kind of environment, individuals, families, neighborhoods, communities, and the private sector will likely play an increasingly active role in meeting emergency management needs. The public’s ability and desire to self-organize will grow, as the role of the individual, access to information, and technology all evolve.(final rep.p.3) Finally, the importance of trust – between the public and government – cannot be overstated, especially since belief in large institutions, including government, has been shifting to social networks and alternative sources of loyalty. This shift poses real challenges to emergency management, especially in the face of changing political expectations and greater public awareness of government limitations. Since trust is so essential to successful outcomes in disasters and emergencies, we must look for opportunities to build and strengthen public trust. Frequently the best pathway for doing so lies in ever wider and deeper channels of public participation. (Final rep.p.3)
Societal Challenges Shortlist: evolving needs of at-risk populations; increasing role of individuals, the private sector and society at large in meeting emergency management needs; belief in large institutions, including government, has been shifting to social networks and alternative sources of loyalty;
Technical Challenges: Meanwhile, disparities in fiscal resources and in access to advanced technology, to know-how, to skilled personnel, etc. will have to be anticipated and effectively managed. Wealthier states with stronger infrastructure and better-educated populations will be in a more advantageous position to deal with disasters and emergencies than poorer ones. (Final rep.p.3) Major social and technological trends—specifically, Universal Access to and Use of Information, Technological Innovation and Dependency, the Changing Role of the Individual, and Shifting U.S. Demographics—will have profound impacts on the future. Rapid innovations in technology are transforming mediaand communication, altering how people interact with each other and relate to society and institutions. While emergency managers will have new capabilities in the future, the people who rely on their services will have different needs and expectations, requiring new pathways for engaging diverse communities and building greater resilience to disasters throughout the Nation. (final rep.p 7)
Technical Challenges Shortlist: Disparities in financial resources, access to technologies and skilled personnel across states; major socio-technical drivers: Universal Access to and Use of Information, Technological Innovation and Dependency, the Changing Role of the Individual, and Shifting U.S. Demographics

Summary of relevant aspects

Background information: The emergency management community faces a future with challenges likely to be far different from those we confront today. Powerful drivers of change such as globalization, technological development, and the changing roles of individuals in society have real potential to reshape the context within which we will operate. Addressing these transformations will be challenging; confronting the complexity that arises from the interaction of multiple drivers – such as demographic shifts, technology, environmental changes, and economic uncertainty – will require entirely new approaches, tools, and capabilities.
Public safety, public security, and disaster management organizations have already taken some steps to address these emerging challenges. However, the increasing pace and complexity of change calls for inclusive engagement and action so that we can proactively plan for and address shifting trends together, as a community of practice. To do this requires the emergency management community to establish and maintain a foresight capability. Foresight does not promote a singular vision or prediction. Instead, it considers a broad spectrum of plausible outcomes to help inform decisionmaking
under uncertain conditions.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) established the Strategic Foresight Initiative (SFI) to address this need. This initiative has brought together a wide cross-section of the emergency management community to explore key future issues, trends and other factors, and to work through their implications. Working collaboratively and with urgency, we are beginning to understand the full range of changes we could encounter and the nature of our future needs; and we can begin to execute a shared agenda for action. This report presents the findings from foresight efforts thus far, including: uncertainties that define and drive the future environment; strategic needs and gaps our community will have to address; a look into the emergency management community of 2030; and finally, suggested next steps for the community to
prepare for the future.


Scenario 1: In Bet on the Wrong Horse, a decade-long cycle of extreme weather prompted widespread acceptance that anthropogenic (human-caused) dramatic climate changes were occurring. New data suggests the previous climate-warming trend has in fact stopped. Expected coastal erosion and rapid sea-level rise has not come to pass. After massive investment in renewable m energy sources and climate engineering, many speculate as to whether the U.S. has bet on the wrong horse. Although this bet has led to improvements in pollution and spurred research and development, the U.S. economy is bobbing in and out of recessions. (Final rep.p.30)
Scenario 2: In Dragon vs. Tiger, the U.S. is a good place to live and work. Every day the media focuses on the continuing tensions between China and India, which, although troubling, has not yet erupted into open conflict. The U.S. has certainly benefitted - the U.S. economy has rebounded and is moderately strong, we are once again the global leader in technology and attracting business. But lurking beneath what is in many respects a positive world for the U.S. is the risk of complacency. (Final rep.p.30)
Scenario 3: In Dude, Where’s My Sovereignty the U.S. is a gloomy place. An endless series of incompetent and uncompromising governments failed to arrive at anything comprehensive to fund the Baby Boom retirements and maintain fiscal sanity. Our global influence has waned, and because the federal government is seen as ineffectual and underfunded, states do many things that used to be strictly federal responsibility. All are worse off than they were a few decades ago. Globally, international business elites and a few countries exert influence to avoid seemingly inevitable resource-extraction anarchy in the global commons. (Final rep.p.30)
Scenario 4: In Quantum Leap, the U.S. is enjoying a renaissance. A technological revolution fostered by aggressive public-private investment has given the U.S. bleeding-edge advantages in computing, nanotechnology, smart materials, and robotics. But it’s not all upside. The world struggles with the increasingly destructive effects of global climate change. Oil-producing economies will soon be on the brink of collapse, a globally networked “elite” appears to enjoy superior political and economic advantages, and cybercrime and intellectual property theft are rampant. No one knows where this brave new cyber world will lead, but for now Americans are enjoying the best economy since the 1990s. (Final rep.p.30)
Actions/solutions implied: The SFI Scenario Workshop yielded a set of 15 common strategic needs that applied across all five scenario worlds – capacities, capabilities or enabling prerequisites the community would need to be successful in the future, no matter how the future actually turned out. Three high-level categoriesof needs emerged in extensive post-workshop analysis:
(1) Essential Capabilities the communitywill need to build or enhance in order to meet future challenges;
(2) Innovative Models and Toolsemergency managers will need to optimize resources, anticipate events, or deal with complexa nd/or unprecedented problems;
(3) Dynamic Partnerships that will need to be formed or strengthened to meet surge requirements or to absorb critical new skills and capabilities.
1. Develop emergency management capabilities to address dynamic and unprecedented shifts in local and regional population characteristics and migratory flows.
2. Practice omni-directional knowledge sharing.
3. Infuse emergency management principles and life skills across the entire educational experience to empower individuals to assume more responsibility.
4. Build a shared vision for the emergency management community of the future and a culture that embraces forward thinking to anticipate emerging challenges and develops appropriate plans and contingencies.
5. Leverage volunteer capabilities across all emergency management phases.
6. Adopt new risk management tools and processes in order to manage cascading consequences of interactions among infrastructure and all hazards.
7. Employ alternative surge models to meet the challenging confluences of social, technological, environmental, economic, and political factors and conditions.
8. Establish flexible frameworks that optimize emergency management inter-operability across all boundaries, because of increasing jurisdictional and technological complexities.
9. Plan and coordinate around shared interests and interdependencies to exercise the entire range of emergency management capabilities.
10. Remediate hidden vulnerabilities in critical supplies – from water to energy to medical products –to offset threats to the full scope of emergency management activities.
11. Influence the development of emerging technologies that advance emergency management capabilities.
12. Empower individuals, neighborhoods, and communities to play a greater role throughout all phases of disasters.
13. Proactively engage business in all emergency management phases and solicit its contribution to policy development, in light of the critical nature of private sector
14. Intensify disaster-response collaboration and planning with Canada and Mexico, recognizing scope for both national and local actions.
15. Foster increased collaboration to ensure appropriate use of the militar to provide specialized capabilities or to augment capacity in complex, overwhelming disaster incidents. (final rep.p.13-20)
Who benefits from the actions taken?: emergency management community

Meta information

Time horizon: 2030
Methods: Environmental Scanning, Scenario Planning, and Advancing and Sustaining Foresight.
Target Group: emergency management community; government
Objectives: Fundamentally, the Strategic Foresight Inititative seeks two outcomes: (1) an emergency management community prepared
for whatever challenges the future holds; and (2) a common sense of direction and urgency, to drive action toward meeting our shared future needs—starting today.This report is intended to provide planners and managers with insights that can shape a range of critical decisions, starting today. Such decisions—which can be made in advance of disasters - include improving prioritization of resources and investments, managing new and unfamiliar risks, forging new partnerships, and understanding emerging legal and regulatory hurdles.
Countries covered: N/A
ERA actors/stakeholders mentioned: emergency management community
Geographic scope:

Entry Details

Rapporteur: Effie Amanatidou
Rapporteur's organization: UNIMAN
Entry Date: 29.08.2012