2023 Set for Disruption and Climate Change Needs to be Considered at Multiple Levels

As the acute impacts of the pandemic subside in many countries, organisations worldwide are still set to encounter significant risks in 2023, and geopolitical shifts and rising cost-of-living could put many organisations in ‘Perma-Crisis’ mode.

That’s according to findings of the International SOS Risk Outlook 2023 report which utilises data on the medical and security environment of countries around the world with rankings from “Insignificant” to “Extreme” levels of risk.

Many of the findings from the report are based on a survey of 1,218 senior risk professionals across 108 countries. This provides a detailed view of some of the major risks which organisations must address in 20232.

Alongside perennial concerns, such as mental health issues, International SOS is highlighting how organisational leaders should support employees by utilising accurate sources of information as they are impacted by the ever-shifting ‘perma-crisis’ events.

Based on the findings of the Risk Outlook 2023 survey, the Workforce Resilience Council and the organisation’s proprietary data, International SOS cites the growing Impact of climate change as among the top five trends organisations need to be aware of in the coming year.

In 2023 the impact of climate change 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 the re-emerging 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 estimated “Over half of 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.

This all comes when only 25% of respondents said their organisation is actively planning for future pandemics and Covid-19 variants. Best practice includes undertaking risk assessments of existing and potential health threats and incorporating forecasts for potential geographic extension of hazards due to climate change and other forces.

Dr. Irene Lai, Medical Director at International SOS said: “Organisations are well-versed in how to respond to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. However, they should build on this existing knowledge and broaden crises and business continuity plans to include known health risks as well as potential health threats.”

“It can be useful to run exercises encompassing likely, as well as unlikely worst-case scenarios to ensure teams are prepared. Forward planning to ensure organisational resilience is critical as climate change is contributing to multiple crises occurring simultaneously, and another pandemic is inevitable.”

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