As the acute impact of the pandemic subsidies in many countries, organisations worldwide can still expect to encounter significant risks in 2023.
The International SOS Risk Outlook 2023 report is based on a survey of over 1200 senior risk professionals across 108 countries and provides a detailed view of some of the major risks organisations should be aware of, offering predictions and advice and listing the top five trends organisations should bear in mind for 2023.
The Russia/Ukraine conflict was the defining security issue of 2022, highlighting that geopolitics and the threat of interstate conflict are back on the corporate risk agenda.
The conflict will certainly still have an impact in 2023, so it is beneficial for organisations to learn how to handle the shifting global risk environment effectively.
Geopolitical volatility is also likely to spread beyond Russia/Ukraine in the next 12 months, as increasing fissures between Russia and the West impact other conflicts and exacerbate longstanding geopolitical tensions.
Beyond the highly visible Russia/West divide, US-China competition will increasingly dominate the geopolitical and economic landscape.
The recommended best practice for organisations would be to consistently revisit the probability and possible impact to understand potential implications for their business and people.
Many crisis management teams are learning to deal with a state of ‘permacrisis’. It would be beneficial for organisations in 2023 to provide the correct level of training, investment, and support for these teams, as experts have drawn attention to significantly high levels of crisis management fatigue.
Managing crisis management fatigue is key in moving from ‘permacrisis’ to crisis resilience and organisations that effectively embed what they have learned over the last two years will emerge with more robust capabilities to manage challenges.
Social unrest is clearly going to be a major item on the agenda in 2023, affecting organisations and employees in a number of ways. Some themes and key points for 2023 include:
- Volatility in energy and agricultural markets will fuel unrest, particularly in unstable, fragile economies. Most likely locations: Sub-Saharan Africa, Egypt, Lebanon
- Lack of progress on resolving underlying economic or political issues will provoke growing public dissatisfaction and cycles of unrest where the risk of violence grows over time. Most likely locations: Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, Peru, Iraq
- Polarisation at a global level will be reflected in further domestic polarisation inflaming pre-existing triggers for social unrest and, in extremis, influencing more localised violence and criminal activity. High-risk locations: US, Western Europe
Mitigation starts with understanding the risk environments in which organisations operate, the drivers of unrest and the most likely impacts on employees and operations.
This can also help businesses to ensure they have the appropriate early warning systems in place, understand the potential triggers and what kind of organisational response is needed to counter any security issues.
Education is also key. Employees and decision-makers need to be knowledgeable about risks and steps their organisation is taking to mitigate them to keep the workforce safe.
The impact of climate change also needs to be considered at multiple levels, beyond the immediate effects of extreme weather events. It is foreseeable that health risks associated with climate change may increase.
Experts advise that climate change is contributing to an acceleration in emergence of new and re-emergence of old infectious diseases, illustrated by the multiple “unusual” outbreaks of the 21st century, including SARS, Ebola, COVID-19 and Mpox.
A briefing published in Nature Climate Change in August 2022 estimates “Over half of the known human pathogenic diseases can be aggravated by climate change”.
Climate change is expected to increase mosquito-borne diseases as temperatures and standing water levels increase. This situation could potentially cause outbreaks of Malaria, Dengue Fever and Zika in places where they have never been present before, and more frequent outbreaks in areas where they already exist.
Organisations should therefore undertake risk assessments of existing and potential health threats, incorporating forecasts for potential geographic extension of hazards due to climate change and other forces.
Business travel is predicted to grow in 2023 and is also clearly going to continue to be complex, so mitigation of travel issues is important to keep travellers safe and stress-free.
Our traveller tracking data shows that international travel is now at 83% of pre-COVID volumes, but travellers are twice as likely to call for advice or assistance.
You can view the report in detail here: https://www.internationalsos.com/risk-outlook
If you are interested in finding out more about the solutions offered by International SOS and how we can support your workforce, please contact Nicola Yates – firstname.lastname@example.org – or visit my.internationalsos.com/ukhealth.