The director of the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security (NCTV), Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, made an appeal to all Dutch citizens during the first National Security Congress on Thursday, January 25. According to him, for too long, we have been fixated on the question: what threats are looming over us? What does the unrest in the world look like? And too little: what are we going to do about it? He emphasized that we have been well aware of the threats for years. It is not a matter of whether we will experience society-disrupting effects, but when.
Aalbersberg stated, “National security is personal security. Everyone has a role to play in protecting our national security interests. The step we need to take together is significant. The honest truth is that, no matter what comes our way, we are not ready. We are not adequately prepared, not sufficiently resilient—neither as a government nor as a society. […] And that needs to change starting today. Being resilient means nothing more or less than: I can handle it. Whatever happens, I can endure it for a while. Resilience means that you have thought about what might happen and made preparations.”
He referred to physical resilience, digital resilience, economic resilience, and resilience against major chain dependencies. Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg concluded his speech with a hopeful message: “We are not starting from zero. Each of us holds a small piece of the key. We all have a role to do what the threat demands.”
Professor Marion Koopmans, Head of the Department of Viroscience and Scientific Director of the PDPC, also attended this National Security Congress, where she was interviewed in a setting similar to “Zomergasten” (a Dutch television program) about her ideas about various security and resilience-related topics and aspects that inspire her work. Koopmans gave an example of the eradication of smallpox as a wonderful illustration of what is possible when you set a goal, have a team that takes on the challenge, collaborates internationally, and creatively deals with setbacks.