Infrastructure Policy Watch: UK response to resilience report and South Africa closes 2050 consultation

- Resilience recommendations endorsed by UK government 
- South Africa moves onto next stage of drafting its National Infrastructure Plan 2050

Aerial view of Durban, South Africa. Image credit: Shutterstock
Aerial view of Durban, South Africa. Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Updated: 21 September, 2021
  • Author: David Hawkes, ICE Lead Policy Manager
This fortnightly blog looks at developing policy landscape for infrastructure, what decisions mean, and their implications, so that infrastructure professionals can play their part in shaping the discussion.

UK government responds to NIC’s ‘Anticipate, React, Recover: Resilient Infrastructure Systems’ report

The UK government has accepted the National Infrastructure Commission’s (NIC) recommendations to implement resilience standards for infrastructure operators and put in place stress testing against these standards. This includes a statutory requirement by 2022 for secretaries of state to publish standards every five years for the resilience of energy, water, digital, road and rail services.

The recommendations, put forward in the NIC’s ‘Anticipate, React, Recover’ report last year, called for a new framework for resilience which anticipates future shocks and stresses; improves actions to resist, absorb and recover from them by testing for vulnerabilities; values resilience properly; and drives adaptation before it is too late.

In its report, the NIC highlighted the partial collapse of the Toddbrook Reservoir dam as an example of reacting to problems, rather than anticipating them. The measures now endorsed by the government mean that future resilience strategies can be planned in advance.

It is expected that the government will now include these approaches to resilience in the forthcoming National Resilience Strategy, which is currently out for consultation.

ICE’s view

ICE responded to the NIC’s original resilience scoping exercise in 2019, calling for more emphasis on a systems thinking approach to resilience, measures that would help policymakers understand public support for investment to meet long-term resilience need, and for regional infrastructure strategies to consider resilience as a fundamental part of infrastructure planning and delivery.

The Covid-19 pandemic has proved more than ever the need for resilient infrastructure, while the UK’s resilience challenges will only grow with time as climate change, population growth and other major demographic shifts impact the types of infrastructure networks that we require.

The government’s endorsement of these resilience standards is to be welcomed. The challenge now is to ensure these standards are fit for purpose and aligned with long-term goals, such as net zero and climate change adaptation.

South Africa closes consultation on a National Infrastructure Plan for 2050

The first phase of South Africa’s draft National Infrastructure Plan 2050 (NIP2050) closed for consultation last week.

This first phase focused on the critical network infrastructure sectors of energy, freight transport, water, and digital communications.

NIP2050 aims to identify the actions needed on infrastructure and provide guidance to improve and implement public infrastructure delivery.

South Africa first adopted a National Infrastructure Plan in 2012. As highlighted in ICE’s Enabling Better Infrastructure programme, the plan was developed in response to the then-government’s New Growth Path report, which sought to address the high levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality that the country continued to face nearly two decades after the end of apartheid.

ICE’s view

Having a strategic infrastructure planning process is essential. This aims to overcome uncertainty to ensure the infrastructure system delivers sustainable outcomes in the long-term.

It's promising to see South Africa continue to build on its National Infrastructure Plan approach from the past decade. A strategy such as this can convert a needs assessment into a credible plan for improving the national infrastructure system, and realising a vision – in this case aligning with the country’s national development plan to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality.


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