Economic uncertainty and unrest, supply chain constraints and the rise of ransomware are the top three risks to business around the world for 2022, according to Healix.
The global healthcare services provider also highlighted the potential for an influenza pandemic and the rising impact of climate change as major issues for organisations to prepare for.
It published the list as part of its annual risk outlook report, with some of the findings similar to last year’s report which flagged declining levels of trust in society and politicians, natural disasters, individual crime and terrorism, cyber risk and supply chain disruption.
Economy and unrest
For the coming year, economic uncertainty and unrest appears to be the biggest concern.
The report noted the pandemic recovery was not equal and a widening gap was appearing between advanced and developing economies, primarily to vaccine inequity and a lack of financial support.
“Growth rates in poorer countries are behind their Western counterparts, influenced by a lack of testing, inadequate medical capacity and disproportionate death rates,” the report said.
“This is creating even more economic disparity.”
It warned that anger at responses to the Covid-19 pandemic had added fuel to the fire during unrest in Tunisia, Colombia, Lebanon and South Africa.
“Knock-on effects such as poverty, unemployment and the removal of subsidies are all potential drivers for unrest which governments are facing in 2022, not least in emerging markets,” it added.
Supply chain issues and ransomware
Consumer demand is rising in recovery but suppliers are struggling while much-reported bottlenecks are occurring globally owing to a wide range of factors.
Healix warned the political fallout of this is significant with businesses scrambling to fill vacant positions while markets remain sceptical about long-term security.
“There are no quick fixes for the issues driving the supply chain backlogs and it is likely that businesses and consumers will continue to feel the impact of this well into 2022,” it said.
Meanwhile the surge of ransomware and other cyber-attacks was brought by criminals looking to exploit remote working to infiltrate networks due to a huge increase in devices working outside companies’ perimeter networks, and this is likely to stay high on the risk agenda.
Notwithstanding the immediate disruption a ransomware attack can cause, the long-term impact is significant, Healix warned.
“Reputational risks are heightened, especially if the news of a ransomware attack becomes public or involves customer data,” it said.
Next pandemic and climate crisis
Although this current pandemic has not yet been concluded, epidemiologists are continuing to warn of the threat of an influenza epidemic predicted before the arrival of Covid.
The report noted 26 virus families are seen as viable threats and so surveillance systems will need to be aware of these potential threats to the world order throughout the next 12 months.
“The pandemic has not eliminated the threat, but sharpened the focus on how to avoid it,” Healix said.
Finally, the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events is only set to increase over the coming decades due to the escalating impacts of climate change.
The gravity of this risk has been reinforced by multiple divergent events throughout 2021, the report highlighted, including devastating flash flooding in the Eifel region which killed more than 200 people and severe heat waves in America which caused hundreds of excess deaths, mass disruption and wildfires.
“The increasing regularity of such events will pose significant challenges over the coming years and businesses must be prepared to address them,” it added.
Healix director of Risk Management Services Chris Job noted the increase in global travel for businesses will see familiar risks and challenges re-emerge for organisations to ensure the health, safety and security of their people.
“As we continue the return to normal, businesses will need to provide more reassurance to their employees and instil confidence that they have the necessary plans and resilience programmes in place to protect their people, assets and operations,” he said.
“Healix’s Risk Outlook report aims to provide businesses with insights into the key risks that could adversely affect them, and in doing so, help them to prepare their business and mitigate consequences where possible.”