Guernsey continues to find itself in a globally almost unique position. However, it's what comes next that will define its future. In my latest 'letter' to the Guernsey Press, I highlight the importance of robust risk management in this future and how it informs governance.
Since my last letter, on “Guernsey’s governance is in our hands”, there have been significant developments both internally within Guernsey and globally with regards to the pandemic.
⚫ Found itself uniquely with no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the Bailiwick for 65 days.
⚫ Entered Phase 5 of its transition programme resulting in life returning much close to normal.
⚫ Received considerable recognition for the ‘test, trace, track’ model it has implemented
⚫ Been able to relax all social distancing measures
⚫ Begun trialing Airbridges
⚫ Produced its ‘Revive and Thrive’ strategy
All these have emerged with a certain degree of confidence and stability.
Around the world
⚫ The UK continues to see large numbers of infections.
⚫ The US data suggests that it is ‘completely’ uncontrolled.
⚫ The resurgence in Melbourne, Australia has resulted in a second ‘lockdown’.
⚫ The numbers of cases in Brazil, India and other countries are alarming.
All these with have brought about considerable concern, anxiety and precariousness.
The management of risk is not an exact science, and in some respects, this is its beauty.
Risk management is an art.
It’s a constantly revolving process; fed with ever changing data and information.
It’s a balancing act between risk on the one hand and opportunity on the other.
It’s source of reflection comes often only from hindsight.
Its very success depends upon us being able to embrace the uncertainty, whilst at the same time realise and explore the possibility.
Some letters to the Press have been critical of the recent methodology and decision-making made by the Civil Contingencies Authority, specifically they say, in continuing with an “elimination of the virus” strategy.
The suggestion being that they are limiting Guernsey’s economic recovery by taking a ‘too’ conservative approach to border control and quarantine measures. Of course, this is a view, however, in my discussions with members of the CCA this is not actually the reality of the strategy. It’s far more nuanced than this, far more complex. There are many more factors influencing the decision-making, not simply eliminating the virus and building a ‘fortress Guernsey”.
In fact, I understand there to be a real acceptance that a return of the virus is inevitable. The challenge lies in mitigating the risk of any resurgence and ensuring that the people of the Bailiwick are, where possible, protected.
The problem is that there are so many aspects to this virus that are simply not known yet.
⚫ The science is still in its infancy.
⚫ The list of symptoms is still debated,
⚫ The understanding and nature of asymptomatic cases is confusing,
⚫ The reasons that some cases have very protracted recovery periods is worrying, and
⚫ The emerging long-term and potentially permanent lung damage is alarming.
The ‘steering’ of Guernsey through this crisis remains critical to its short, medium and long-term future, as well as its recovery.
As we stand now, we are able to meet friends, work in our offices, shop without restriction and travel throughout the Bailiwick. All this with considerable confidence that we are safe. This is strides ahead of most of the rest of the world!
There are economic concerns, however and they are not insignificant. There is always a balance in risk management between the residual risks that emerge from the risk assessment process and the opportunities that accompany these risks.
The challenge is set to remain for some time to come. The art and practice of managing the risks ahead are going to continue.
Some strategies implemented, will succeed; some will fail.
The important work resides in how the CCA and Deputies respond to these inevitabilities, how they work collaboratively to further the opportunities that emerge and do this with swiftness and agility.
One definition of governance is
“The ability and skill of being able to consider carefully, sometimes swiftly, the situation that befalls us and respond with wisdom and compassion”
⚫ Debate is critical to support decision-making.
⚫ Openness is vital to create engagement.
⚫ Swiftness is needed to take opportunity.
⚫ Acceptance is required to realise failure is a chance to learn.
⚫ Collaboration is integral to this success.
Accelerate too fast and we will potentially take a big step backwards.
Stall and delay and we will find ourselves behind the rest of the world.
Get this right and we may put ourselves in a very advantageous global position.
Governance brings this together, and
Risk management informs governance.
Deputies, stand up, contribute, collaborate, take ownership and show the world how to govern.