The government wants to protect society from disruption owing to a disaster or crisis. With its National Security Strategy, it is examining the threats, how to prevent them, and what to do if a disaster occurs.
National security is at stake when one or more of our country’s vital interests are threatened. Those interests are:
- territorial security: this would be jeopardised by a military occupation, but also by prolonged flooding;
- economic security: a major internet or electrical breakdown would disrupt online financial transactions;
- ecological security: damage to the environment from pollution or extreme heat or drought;
- physical security: deaths, injuries and chronic illnesses caused by flooding or a pandemic;
- social and political stability: violations of the rule of law caused by tensions between communities, for instance.
Analysing, comparing and dealing with threats
Each year, the government investigates potential threats to the Netherlands, how serious they are and how we can deal with them. This process is roughly divided into three steps:
- Describing threats: what threats may be facing the Netherlands?
- Comparing threats: how serious would the consequences of a threat be, and how likely is it to be carried out? This is based on the National Risk Assessment. A summary of the National Risk Assessment will give you an idea of the method used.
- Determining the approach: how the risk of an incident can be reduced (prevention) and how we can deal with an incident if it occurs (preparation and response).
This approach is described in more detail in the summary of the National Security Operating Procedure.
National Security Strategy: findings and scenario
In 2007, the government published its National Security Strategy (2007), which is summarised in the National Security Strategy Factsheet. The procedures for analysing, comparing and dealing with threats are explored in a dedicated subsection.
The National Security Strategy implementation method is explained in the document Guidelines for the National Security Implementation Method: Scenarios, Risk Assessment and Capacities (2009). The scientifically tested method and guidelines were drawn up by a group of experts from government, research institutes and the business sector.
In 2007 and 2008, the following threats were analysed:
- floods: coastal and river flooding;
- extreme weather: extreme heat and drought, wildfires, heavy (snow) storms, black ice;
- energy security: power failures, gas failures and oil scarcity;
- infectious diseases: a flu pandemic;
- polarisation and extremism: mass polarisation and ghettoisation;
- ICT breakdowns: lack of digital security;
- serious accidents: nuclear and chemical incidents;
- criminal infiltration of mainstream society: criminal influence in public administration and the stock market, criminal interference in the business sector.
The results of the 2008 analysis can be found in the Findings of the National Security Strategy 2008/2009. The results of the 2007 analysis can be found in the Findings of the National Risk Assessment 2007/2008. The threats are described in the form of scenarios. These scenarios, together with the 2007 scenarios, are included in the document National Risk Assessment Scenarios 2008/2009.
Preventing and dealing with crises
The government regularly examines whether public bodies, business enterprises and individual citizens are well prepared for crises and disasters. If necessary, it will introduce additional measures such as continuity plans, which ensure that business enterprises and public bodies continue to function after a crisis such as a pandemic.