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Building resilience is about ensuring that the capabilities, procedures and measures that enable a country’s institutions to act in a flexible manner in case of a major shock are in place. In recent years, many of the world’s major cities have had first-hand experience dealing with the prevention or aftermath of deadly terrorism. While they are getting better at combatting and responding to attacks, countering the evolving threats requires further coordinated worldwide action, panelists told a Friends of Europe Policy Insight “Terror and the city: boosting urban resilience to violent extremism” on 22 February. How can cities reinforce their resilience or their ability to respond, persevere and adapt to internal or external crises? Their ability to survive and adapt to shocks – whether a terrorist attack or other – depends on the robustness of a good governance framework at the local, national and international levels.
Fundamental to urban resilience is a city’s capacity to respond, and to be able to handle attacks in the quickest and most effective way possible. According to Paul Argyle, Strategic Advisor to the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Manchester, this is done by starting on the basis of a “generic response”. He talked about the widely-praised reaction to an attack in May 2017, when a terrorist bombed the Manchester Arena, killing 23 people including the attacker. “If you have hundreds of bespoke plans for every scenario, nobody gets that plan out in the case of an emergency. So we have one. We use the same plan when we respond to an incident, so that we have the same command-and-control structures. We then support that with plans for specific scenarios.”