A new survey has revealed that for the first time, businesses are more concerned about extreme weather affecting operations in 2030 than they are about cyber attacks.
The new survey conducted by healthcare and risk management solutions company Healix found that extreme weather events have now surpassed threats to IT infrastructure as the top operational risk according to business perspectives. The survey published in November 2023 asked respondents to look at the risks they are most concerned about. The respondents identified extreme weather (43%), cyber attacks (40%), and interstate conflict (38%) as the top three biggest concerns. The survey included 500 travel and security risk managers across eight industrial sectors.
Almost three quarters (73%) of businesses surveyed said they have already been directly affected by extreme weather. The highest impacted industry is manufacturing (86%) where operations are widely dispersed among physical environments and geographies. The media industry also ranked high (83%), accounting for the risks involved in reporting on these extreme weather events at source.
Of all the extreme weather events, businesses were most concerned about extreme heat affecting employees (41%), followed by heavy rainfall and flooding (37%) and wildfires (33%). This makes sense because not only can extreme heat affect personnel with medical risks such as heatstroke and severe dehydration as a standalone factor, but it can also lead to associated factors related to extreme heat, such as wildfires.
Healix risk intelligence manager Andrew Devereux said, “As a global trend, the common theme of all climate-related risks is that they are indiscriminate and lead to tangible risks, whether it’s physical risks to staff or operational risks such as security of infrastructure and supply chain.”
With respect to the risks that would have the most impact on operations, natural disaster came out highest (34%) ahead of societal/cultural (30%). Despite this, a quarter (25%) of respondents said they had no plan in place to mitigate risk around climate or sustainability.
Mr. Devereux said, “The hard truth is that we’re experiencing more immediate physical and direct operational impact from changing climate patterns. It is crucial that businesses think about climate risk in the same short-term view they have for cultural or societal risk, such as political unrest.”
The survey report also looks at other factors that could help businesses develop better risk management solutions, including the role of AI and data, as well as the biggest risks identified by the respondents across markets.
The respondents surveyed included the Middle East and North Africa, Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific and Africa.