July 28, 2021
Director of the Global Health Program, Council on Foreign Relations
Caitlin Durkovich, special assistant to the President and senior director of resilience and response for the White House National Security Council, recently spoke at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s 10th annual Building Resilience Through Private-Public Partnerships conference and shared how the U.S. is planning on building American resilience and preparing the nation for the future.
The Government Needs Imagination to Plan for a Stronger Future
Durkovich used the example of the 9/11 Commission as a way to discuss how the United States needs to think about being more prepared for any type of catastrophe the country faces.
“The commission on 9/11 kind of framed the failure of imagination,” Durkovich said. “9/11 was not just a failure of imagination, but really a failure to routinize how we use imagination to think about what may be in front of us. We have to do a better job early on embracing and anticipating in identifying those threats and then certainly as we go through them, how do we build on the lessons learned and not just bounce back, but bounce forward?”
The United States Needs to Focus on Building Supply Chain Resiliency
The sudden onset of COVID-19 created a shockwave across supply chains worldwide. Industries didn't have time to prepare for a sudden shutdown of their production, delivery, and logistics departments. Now, having found solutions and currently coming out on the other side, the U.S. government wants to ensure that a supply chain shutdown of that magnitude could not happen again.
“Not since the energy crisis in the 1970s or even World War II have Americans been so severely impacted by disruptions to our supply chains,” said Durkovich. “The COVID pandemic made all Americans acutely aware of our dependence, not only on foreign manufacturing but also on our global transportation system to deliver goods and commodities that working families needed to thrive and prosper ー [like] toilet paper.”
“We are interconnected and interdependent with the rest of the world, which creates both opportunities and threats,” she added. “We need to work together in partnership to address them.”
President Biden Is Taking Measures to Make the Country More Resilient
Durkovich also discussed the ways President Biden plans to continue to address the nation's resiliency, including actions for supply chains, national security, and climate change.
“The administration has taken steps to address supply chain vulnerabilities from expanding the manufacturers of vaccines and other essential medical supplies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Durkovich. “Relevant departments and agencies across the government are now developing comprehensive strategies to address risks and, more broadly, to revitalize our industrial base and in line with the overarching theme of the conference, building resilience through public-private partnerships.”