COVID-19 pandemic risk report

by Mark Rowe

Risk trends are increasing ten times faster as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report released by the risk consultancy, Sibylline.

The report demonstrates that the global crisis surrounding the pandemic is being exacerbated – by environmental events such as the Atlantic hurricane season and locust plagues in East Africa. The effects of the virus are being further magnified by socio-economic problems caused by the measures taken to combat it, such as widespread bankruptcy and mass redundancies, accelerating underlying trends.

The consultancy’s conclusion: COVID-19 is turning the world into a far more volatile, complex and ambiguous place in which to live and do business, at a rate higher than is generally yet realised. This will pose rapid future challenges to businesses already struggling to deal with the obvious crisis, Sibylline adds.

See also interview with Justin Crump, pictured, CEO of Sibylline, in the June 2020 print edition of Professional Security magazine.

Among their findings:

– Global risk trends increased twice as much between December 2019 and May 2020 as in the entire four-year period before the crisis;
– Indicators show that 163 countries will see a sharply deteriorating political, security, criminal or governance situation as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a 63pc swing towards negative trends;
– Security threats are mainly being driven by increases in regional tensions and a steady rise in domestic unrest, with 114 countries expected to see an increased level of agitation;
– 87 per cent of the world is due to see GDP per capita markedly decline, impacting stability and security in a feedback cycle;
– Terrorism threats have fallen significantly since 2015, but will accelerate as a result of the crisis, as groups and individuals – particularly on the right wing – exploit the situation; and
– Similarly, 141 countries are expected to see a notable increase in criminal activity, mostly in the form of organised crime

The report is based on data from Sibylline’s proprietary Aggregated Strategic Threat Risk Assessment (ASTRA) platform, produced using on-the-ground intelligence, with analysis from the company’s World Risk Register service. Running since 2012, ASTRA dissects a total of 37 Security, Political, Criminal and Governance factors for each country, producing a global risk score alongside trend indicators and regional analysis.

This report is the latest in a series usually only available to Sibylline clients. However, the firm has opened its predictive COVID-19 analysis and reporting for free since the beginning of the pandemic to help organisations deal with the crisis. The intelligence reports and online data portal aim to supply some of the raw data people are chasing, as well as offer more complex analysis on geopolitical risks – which have not gone away, the firm stresses.

Justin Crump, lead author of the report said: “The findings indicate an impending wave of risk and danger, threatening the recovery of economies and prospects for organisations worldwide.

“It is not just the pandemic itself that is testing business resilience, it is the second order effects and growing risk across almost every factor that makes for sobering reading. Timely intelligence is essential for business leaders to cut through the noise, establish likely impacts and mitigate them. As has been shown during the crisis so far, without sound intelligence and the agility to respond, an organisation will not achieve the resilience it needs to survive current or future threats.”

Greg Hoobler, US-based Director at Sibylline adds: “It is clear that as nations emerge from lockdown the world will need to operate on a totally different basis and scale, affecting different markets in different ways. This report aims to give leaders free access to clear quantitative data, alongside qualitative analysis. By helping them understand the trends and forecasted indicators, we hope they will make well informed risk management decisions to successfully navigate their organisations through the hazards of uncertainty while being positioned for opportunities when global economies rebound, and risks recede.”

And according to Tamara Makarenko, COO and Head of Investigations, whose concept of the crime-terror nexus was the subject of a UN Security Council resolution: ”We assess that there will be no return to “business as normal” in the wake of this extended situation. Local support infrastructures are in place and tested regularly, in companies and at state level. There are serious lessons to be learned from COVID-19, namely, the absolute need for resilience at all levels. The need for governance, democracy and security has never been more important as the world looks to create positive outcomes in, what has to be seen, as a vulnerable time for businesses and society.”

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