Future Proof: the opportunity to transform the UK's resilience to extreme risks

Report by Toby Ord, Angus Mercer, Sophie Dannreuther, Haydn Belfield, Jess Whittlestone, Jade Leung, Markus Anderljung, Cassidy Nelson, Gregory Lewis, Piers Millett, Sam Hilton
Published on 02 June 2021

A new report from CSER Research Affiliates at the Centre for Long-Term Resilience, CSER staff and colleagues at  Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute.

Executive Summary

Out of the wreckage of the Second World War, the UK transformed itself. It rebuilt its shattered economy. It founded the NHS. It created national insurance. And it helped establish international institutions like the United Nations so that the world would never endure a tragedy on this scale again.

Human progress doesn’t come in straight lines. Instead, there are rare moments where transformative change is possible — where decades’ worth of progress can be achieved in a matter of months.

Such an opportunity for transformative change may now be upon us. As the UK begins to emerge from Covid-19, which has cost tens of thousands of lives and over £300 billion in 2020 alone, we have a similar opportunity to that which existed in 1945.

While the scale of national tragedy is alive in our minds, the Government must seize this opportunity, and ensure we are much better prepared for the next extreme risk event that will devastate lives and economies on a global scale. The UK must become a global leader in ensuring long-term resilience to extreme risks, and keep pace with the significant steps the United States is taking in this area.

We do not know which extreme risk event will come next — it might be another pandemic, or it might be something completely different. But we do know what many of the most extreme risks are, and how best to prepare for them. This report offers a roadmap for how to do just that — it provides an insurance policy for Britain against the biggest threats we face.

In this report, leading experts set out the key extreme risks we face, analyse the UK’s current level of focus on each of them, and provide recommended actions for the Government to take over the next 12 months. Estimated costs of implementing these recommendations in the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review are included in this report where possible, and further information is available on request. A great deal of progress can be made with
Government investment in the tens of millions — an insignificant sum in the context of any Spending Review.

Read full report

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