Mandate of the Total Preparedness Commission
Ensuring the safety and security of its inhabitants is one of the state’s most important tasks. The work done to optimise public security and emergency preparedness is crucial to achieving and maintaining this safety and security. Public security refers to a society’s ability to guard against, and manage, events that pose a threat to its basic values and functions and to the life and health of its people. Such events may be natural in origin or they may be the result of technical error, human error or deliberate action.
Public security efforts are broad in scope. They address challenges relating to terrorism, organised crime, complex threats, cybersecurity, financial system security, questions of national ownership, power supply security, water supply security, food supply security, spatial planning, transport security, healthcare readiness, migration and refugee flows, national security crises and other issues.
Many actors exercise responsibility within the field of public security. The fire, police, healthcare, civil defence, rescue and volunteer services all have operational resources. They, along with the Armed Forces, are on the front line of Norwegian public security efforts. The ministries have responsibility within their sectors. Municipalities are responsible for identifying risks within their boundaries and for planning to address those risks. County governors are responsible for ensuring that decisions, goals and guidelines adopted by the Parliament (Storting) and the Government are properly attended to, and for promoting county-level public security efforts. National directorates and specialised national agencies focus on particular subject areas and often are responsible for vital operational resources such as the police, the health services etc. Private-sector actors have responsibilities associated with critical public functions and infrastructure as well as aspects of Norway’s Total Defence framework. Private-public cooperation is therefore a crucial element of public security.
Complicated value chains can lead to dependencies and vulnerabilities that undercut public security. Digital services, for example, are dependent on suppliers located in a wide variety of countries. The food supply chain consists of many actors at the producer level and a few, large ones in distribution and purchasing. We must be capable of handling situations in which value-chain disturbances threaten security of supply.
Effective public security and emergency preparedness require teamwork and coordination among the various participants. We must make the best possible use of our resources and look across sector boundaries and emergency response disciplines when assessing needs.
With all of this in mind, the Government is appointing a Commission to survey Norway’s overall preparedness.
- The Commission shall provide a fundamental assessment of strengths and weaknesses in the current preparedness systems. It shall consider how society’s collective resources can and should be organised to enhance public security and emergency preparedness while ensuring that the resources devoted to preparedness are exploited to maximal effect. The Commission shall issue clear and specific recommendations about priority tasks going forward.
- The Commission’s work shall be based on an assessment of risks and their relative importance. The Commission shall begin with an assessment of current national and international challenges and consider how these challenges may be expected to develop and affect public security and emergency preparedness. The Commission should consider, among other things, the significance of advances in technology, including cybersecurity, as well as developments in the security policy landscape, globalisation, urbanisation and climate change.
- The Commission’s mandate encompasses all aspects of public security, including those related to Svalbard, and the full crisis spectrum, from peace through security crises to war. The Commission shall adopt a Total Preparedness perspective and concentrate on what it considers the key challenges for Norway, whether they are specific sector challenges or problems that extend across multiple sectors.
- The Commission’s assessments should include civil-military cooperation and, to the extent deemed applicable, the Total Defence framework. The Commission should also assess the specialised preparedness schemes established for particular threats such as nuclear and radiological emergencies and biological incidents. In addition, the Commission should assess which broad premises it believes should underlie plans to ensure supply security, including within digital services, power supply and food. It should also assess special challenges and solutions applicable to areas where the population is small and widely scattered.
- The Commission should assess the significance of international expectations and obligations for Norwegian emergency preparedness, as well as how international resources and assistance from allies and partner countries can strengthen our readiness level. NATO’s expectations of resilience and the EU’s civil protection mechanism should be included in such an assessment.
- The Commission should maintain a focus on cross-sectoral public security challenges.
- The Commission should give serious thought to the effect of tighter budgets and increasingly complex threats and challenges on the way priorities are ranked. It should also consider the growing importance of preventative measures in emergency preparedness.
- The Commission, recognising that it is neither advisable nor possible to eliminate every risk, should assess the importance of risk acceptance.
- The Commission is to establish the necessary liaison with relevant ongoing processes, such as that of the Defence Commission, which has been appointed to lay the foundation of a new long-term plan for the Armed Forces (effective from 2025) and other defence sector work, and the follow-up to the Coronavirus Commission’s work.
- If clarifications or minor changes to the mandate are needed, the Commission shall take them up with the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, which can decide on changes as necessary.
- The Commission shall account for the administrative and financial implications of its recommendations, and at least one proposal shall be based on unchanged use of resources. The Commission shall otherwise follow the provisions of the official instruction on studies and reports prepared in support of central government decision-making.
- The Commission shall submit its conclusions in the form of an Official Norwegian Report (NOU) to the Ministry of Justice and Public Security on 5 June 2023.
The Total Preparedness Commission will begin its work as soon as possible after 21 January 2022.