Natural Hazards

Met Office Conversations will debate hazards and their impact in the UK

The second in a series of roundtable events under Chatham House Rule to get key influencers talking about shared issues.

This event introduced by a keynote speech from the Cabinet Office, looks at how government agencies and the private sector can work together to prepare for natural hazards and their impacts more effectively. It also examined how to implement the 'Keeping the Country Running: Natural Hazards and Infrastructure' guide as published by the Cabinet Office.

Key issues and outcomes

This roundtable event looked at:

  • The actions needed to ensure implementation of the 'Keeping the Country Running: Natural Hazards and Infrastructure' guide
  • Are we ready for the next significant natural hazard emergency?
  • Are there any barriers to effective planning and risk assessment, and what are they?
  • How do we ensure that we make continued progress in assessing resilience and identifying risks? 
  • Looking at the longer term, what opportunities and threats are there to critical national infrastructure?

What action is needed to ensure 'Keeping the Country Running: Natural Hazards and Infrastructure' published by the Cabinet Office is implemented?

The group recognised that implementing the guide requires organisations to work together more closely to improve national resilience without introducing new regulation.

Are we ready for the next significant natural hazard emergency?

Some organisations felt they were out of the loop when it come to developments in hazard management, with calls for better availability of data and integrated advice. Attendees welcomed the opportunity to share / communicate initiatives around hazard management and national resilience more often in future, to ensure incentives are joined-up and messages are consistent.

How do we ensure that we make continued progress in assessing resilience and identifying risks?

It was suggested that organisations were kept on their toes by regular hazard events. Given that local events could escalate into national crises, impacts that cut across all types of hazard were covered in the Cabinet Office guide. When it comes to the likelihood of specific hazards occurring, judgements should be based on the probability of the extreme events taking place - such as the eruption history of Iceland - and possible knock on effects explored. 

It was suggested that the Met Office and Environment Agency should investigate how best to influence behaviours and actions to ensure people take action after receiving a warning.

Are there any barriers to effective planning and risk assessment? What are they?

The Met Office was tasked with setting up a stakeholder working group to take these international resilience and communication issues forward. As natural hazards do not respect geographic boundaries, the working group is to consider the international impacts of natural hazards. 

Looking at the longer term, what opportunities and threats are there to critical national infrastructure?

Overall, it was felt that the greatest threat lay, not in the next natural hazard, but in getting joined-up policy in the right place at the right time.

More information

Download a detailed summary of the roundtable here:

Natural Hazards roundtable summary Natural Hazards roundtable summary (PDF, 887 kB)

Last updated: 28 January 2013