Greater Manchester’s resilience journey
Home to 2.71 million people, Greater Manchester has a model of governance unique within the UK, one that enables more unified urban management in areas including skills development, transport, and economic development.
Although the city’s population and economy continue to grow, Greater Manchester faces challenges of pronounced poverty and joblessness. City leadership hopes to grow the urban economy by focusing on employee skills training and the promotion of an enterprise culture that will challenge social norms that foster dependence.
Greater Manchester also faces an environmental challenge in the form of rainfall flooding, which has the potential to disrupt government services and damage crucial infrastructure. Deprived communities living in flood risk areas are at the greatest risk, and already face a growing economic burden in the form of higher insurance premiums.
Increased coordination among local authorities has enhanced the city’s ability to respond effectively to emergencies, while partnerships with public and private stakeholders have helped the city to better identify the potential impacts of climate change.
Greater Manchester is currently in the grip of COVID-19, and the city-region is working hard to respond to and recover from this crisis while continuing to build resilience. This is to ensure that we are ready for further waves of COVID-19 and other shock events, and that we begin to address the stresses that continually weaken our society, economy, and environment.
The shock of COVID-19 has shone a light on a range of stresses that have exacerbated the impact of this emergency. These issues are not necessarily new, and existing plans to address them are now being accelerated. COVID-19 has impacted on all aspects of society in a sustained and systemic manner, and as such it requires a whole-of-society approach.
To build resilience requires a broad range of stakeholders, from public sector to private sector, from community groups to individuals – and for us to recover requires all of Greater Manchester to drive this activity forward. We aim to ensure that, in a changing and complex world, Greater Manchester can be a resilient place where everyone can “grow up, get on, and age well.”
Dr. Kathryn Oldham
Chief Resilience Officer
Dr. Kathryn Oldham has been Greater Manchester’s Chief Resilience Officer since 2017, providing strategic leadership for the city region’s approach to resilience. She has led Greater Manchester’s participation in both the 100RC initiative and the United Nation’s Making Cities Resilient campaign, including serving as a member of the campaign’s global steering committee.
Kathryn is responsible for a specialist unit delivering disaster risk reduction and an emergency response service for Greater Manchester’s ten local authorities. She also provides a strategic advice function to the Greater Manchester Resilience Forum with a focus on multi-agency collaboration to deliver safer, stronger, and more resilient communities in Greater Manchester. She was the co-ordinator for an initiative funded by the European Commission to create and implement a city-to-city peer review methodology for the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and has led Greater Manchester’s input into a number of other European resilience projects. Kathryn has been engaged in drafting national, British, European, and International Standards on resilience, including providing expert input into the city-level indicators for the Sendai Framework.
Kathryn holds a medical degree and has previously served in a wide range of positions in local government.