COVID-19’s Top Risks: Economy, Ecology, Society, and Technology
In the short term, the emerging COVID-19 risks that resilience professionals need to be most concerned about include economic failures, sustainability losses, unemployment anxieties, and cyber threats, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum.
Polling nearly 350 risk professionals about the outlook for the next 18 months, the four key areas of concern identified in COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and Its Implications are:
Economic shifts – The top risk among those polled, the report says, “A prolonged global recession tops the list of most feared risks, closely followed by bankruptcy, industry consolidation, failure of industries to recover and a disruption of supply chains.”
Sustainability setbacks – 18% of respondents identified this risk as one of the most likely risk outcomes and 16% considered it to be one of the most concerning. Even though industrial production worldwide was cut by lockdowns and shutdowns, “omitting sustainability criteria in recovery efforts or returning to an emissions-intensive global economy risks hampering the climate resilient low-carbon transition. Years of progress could be lost through underinvestment in infrastructure adaptation, withdrawals from previous commitments and weaker climate activism.”
Social anxieties – In addition to public health threats, high unemployment could exacerbate inequality and affect mental health and societal cohesion. A third of respondents also expect a developing economy to collapse in the medium term, which would have serious consequences for vulnerable groups suffering the worst impacts.
Technology dependence – We’ve already been seeing an uptick in COVID-19-related cyberattacks, a major threat alongside data fraud. The breakdown of IT infrastructure and networks is also a serious concern as organizations deal with the challenge of migrating a workforce to telework status.