How we’re helping to build a secure and resilient world

Explore why we’re putting people at the heart of our approach, encouraging all areas of our society and economy to work together and deliver this strategic theme.

Building a secure and resilient world is a common goal. An ongoing process that necessitates collaboration with individuals and communities, not merely for them.

Humans must be a focal part of sustainable solutions as both groups and individuals. In my career, I’ve witnessed the transformative power of interventions that genuinely understand and respect the nuances of human experiences.

An interdisciplinary journey

My 15-year journey within UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), initially at the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and subsequently in the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), has rarely adhered to the notional boundaries of disciplinary remits.

Instead, I’ve embraced a combined force of interdisciplinary approaches to address challenges ranging from conflict and forced displacement to climate change and food security.

So, being involved in the building a secure and resilient world strategic theme was a natural next step. Enabling me to extend my experience and amplify the impact of individual programmes through strategic collaboration.

Navigating global change

The building a secure resilient world theme convenes expertise from across disciplines to formulate a human-centred response to the evolving dynamics of the worldwide system.

Under the sub-theme of ‘technologies for resilient security and defence,’ we prioritise technology’s role in enhancing the capacity of state defence and security, economy and society. Recognising the importance of innovation, our initiatives aim to reduce vulnerabilities and expedite recovery from shocks.

The synergy between global structure and technological innovation is evident in our commitment to exploring cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. These innovations fortify national defence mechanisms and support a secure and resilient international system.

Strengthening supply chains for stability

Addressing the resilience of supply chains is a critical aspect of the theme’s mission. The ‘resilient and secure supply chains’ sub-theme underscores the dedication to increasing resilience in crucial areas like:

  • food
  • critical materials
  • manufacturing
  • complex supply systems

The integrated approach to the challenges set out by the theme recognises the interconnectedness between global order, technological innovation and supply chain resilience, contributing to national security and the stability of the broader international structure.

Behavioural and cultural resilience

With the ‘behavioural and cultural resilience’ sub-theme in particular, we’re acknowledging the human factor in building resilience.

We’ve integrated the commitment to behavioural and cultural resilience into the theme’s initiatives. Aiming to empower individuals and communities to navigate change effectively by promoting human-centred adaptive strategies and ensuring a just distribution of resources.

Safeguarding the natural and built environment

The final sub-theme, ‘strengthening resilience in the natural and built environment’, demonstrates our commitment to mitigating the impact of natural and human-created hazards.

By being responsive to the specific requirements of diverse environments, the initiative seeks to safeguard societal processes and operations.

The role of cross-collaboration

The challenges we face demand a united front. Leveraging the collective expertise and seamless collaboration of diverse research councils is crucial to the success of this initiative.

But we are not confining this collaborative spirit to theoretical frameworks. It translates into tangible actions and initiatives within the theme’s investments. Integrating technological innovations, behavioural insights, and environmental strategies is a testament to the power of cross-collaboration.

To aid this cross-collaboration we launched the Building a Secure and Resilient World Research and Coordination Hub to coordinate and maximise the impact of the activities commissioned by UKRI.

It reflects a commitment to weaving together the diverse threads of expertise into a cohesive fabric that fortifies the foundations of a secure and resilient world.

A catalyst for human-centred innovation

The theme is not just a strategic initiative but a profoundly human endeavour. The proliferation of risks, many of which are human-made, is a stark reality impacting us all, particularly the most vulnerable.

That’s why this strategic theme is a timely response. Demanding a better understanding of the interconnectedness of risks and their impact on communities. It calls for developing fit-for-purpose solutions that adopt a systemic approach rather than isolating risks individually.

Top image:  Credit: AzmanL, E+ via Getty Images

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