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The Manchester Briefing (Issue 37)

Univ. Manchester
Date de publication

International lessons for local and national government recovery and renewal

What is ‘The Manchester Briefing on COVID-19’?

The Manchester Briefing on COVID-19 is aimed at those who plan and implement recovery from COVID-19, including government emergency planners and resilience officers.

We bring together international lessons and examples which may prompt your thinking on the recovery from COVID-19, as well as other information from a range of sources and a focus on one key topic. The lessons are taken from websites (e.g. UN, WHO), documents (e.g. from researchers and governments), webinars (e.g. those facilitated by WEF, GCRN), and other things we find.

We aim to report what others have done without making any judgement on the effectiveness of the approaches or recommending any specific approach.

This week briefing considers risk communication as part of the Local Resilience Capability (LRC)1 . Communication is central to LRC as it ensures that communities are aware of risks, more able to recognise risks, prepare for them, and be better informed of how to respond to and mitigate the impacts of risks when they occur. But, communication also allows our communities to share their awareness of changing risks, pinpoint new vulnerabilities, and highlight better preparedness being coordinated locally – all which may inform local resilience partnerships of a changing profile of local risk.

This briefing explores risk communications from three perspectives:

  1. The communication of risk before an emergency
  2. The communication of risk during an emergency
  3. How risk communication could be improved COVID-19 has been described as a “manifestation of compound, systemic and existential risk” characterised by “uncertainty, complexity and surprise”2 .

The unpredictable and complex nature of the pandemic has caused significant challenges for risk communication from public health systems, national and local governments. Over the last 14 months we have seen a constant shift between response and recovery given the multiple waves of the pandemic, at different times, and in different places, nationally and sub-nationally. We have witnessed concurrent emergencies challenging COVID-19 guidelines (e.g. mass evacuations due to severe flooding/cyclones3 ), and the challenges posed by public demonstrations and protests (e.g. Black Lives Matter, 20204 ).

Reflecting on the last 15 months, were our risk communication systems able to meet the demands of the pandemic? Our imaginations appear to have fallen short of foreseeing how widespread, prolonged, and recurring the pandemic could be.

COVID-19 has pressured response organisations to build trust and communicate transparently and effectively with communities of especially vulnerable people, as well as those who were not previously thought of in this way. However, the risk of COVID-19 being at all our doorsteps has heightened our personal sense of being at-risk, making us more receptive to risk communications.