On the third anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire, the Bennett Institute for Public Policy released a report 'Policy Lessons from Catastrophic Events' The report captures the output of a workshop held in February 2020, which focused on why we find it difficult to learn from Catastrophic events.
Could an interdisciplinary group start to identify the barriers and begin to generate ideas for shifting them?
One of the overriding conclusions of the workshop was the importance of hearing and acknowledging a wide range of different voices when considering complex problems. As one of the workshop attendees put it: “There was so much expertise in the room, each bringing different parts of the puzzle, and because we were all from different communities, there was almost no ‘siloing’ into disciplinary groups.”
The report sets out the findings from the workshop, including identifying reasons contributing to our inability to learn from catastrophic events and we can improve. Including:
The lessons identified apply to any complex problem. Right now, we are experiencing the same failures with COVID-19. For example, there is the failure to learn lessons from previous health crises or even from simulated exercises designed to ensure preparedness. There are lapses in co-ordination between different authorities responsible for different aspects of managing systemic risks. There is a strong incentive by decision makers to avoid future blame.
We continue to see failures on the part of policymakers and regulators to learn and implement the lessons from successive crises. Now is the time to listen and learn.
Read and download a copy of the report here.
The Bennett Institute for Public Policy launched in April 2018. The institute's goal is "to become a world-leader in achieving successful and sustainable solutions to some of the most pressing problems of our time". The Institute conducts high-level academic and policy research. Their research connects the world leading work in technology and science at Cambridge with the economic and political dimensions of policy making. Committed to outstanding teaching, policy engagement, and to devising sustainable and long-lasting solutions.
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