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Report, Survey Lay Out Impact Of COVID-19’s Disruptions

The World Economic Forum’s survey and Lloyd’s report focus on global systemic risk concerns.
  • David Pilla
  • November 2020
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COVID-19 concerns brought unemployment and infectious diseases to the top of an international risks survey led by the World Economic Forum.

The pandemic also focused global attention on the capacity of cities to withstand the impacts of systemic risks including pandemics, highlighting features that contribute to both resilience and vulnerability, said Lloyd's in a separate report, “Cities at risk—Building a resilient future for the world's urban centers,” published in association with Urban Foresight and Newcastle University.

The pandemic “brought into focus the impacts systemic risks can have on our urban areas, with severe economic and social consequences extending across the world,” the Lloyd's report said.

COVID-19 “is distracting us from certain long-term risks that will be around long after the current crisis is resolved.”

Peter Giger
Zurich Insurance Group

Unemployment is now the main concern for business executives worldwide, with infectious diseases coming in second and the fiscal crisis, last year's top concern, at No. 3, according to the WEF's interactive map, “Regional Risks for Doing Business 2020.” Cyberattacks and “profound social instability” round out the top five.

“The COVID-19 crisis has shone a spotlight on organizational resilience,” John Q. Doyle, president and chief executive officer, with broker Marsh, said in a statement.

“As firms look to the future, they are matching their risk and resilience arrangements with a threat landscape marked by significant customer and workforce behavioral shifts.”

Infectious diseases rose 28 places to become the second most-recurring risk, appearing in the top 10 in all regions except South Asia, the WEF said.

Peter Giger, chief risk officer, Zurich Insurance Group, said COVID-19 “is distracting us from certain long-term risks that will be around long after the current crisis is resolved.” At the same time, the pandemic “is also having the positive effect of leading many to reassess priorities,” said Giger. “This, I hope, will ensure that businesses advance their risk resilience strategies and result in decisive and impactful action to combat existential risks like climate change.”

Surveyed regions include East Asia and the Pacific, Eurasia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, North America, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. The WEF survey tracks 30 risks, including terrorist attacks, extreme weather events and state collapse or crisis. The top risks are mostly related to economics, but climate-related risks “are causing greater concern this year, with natural catastrophes, extreme weather events, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse , and failure of climate-change adaptation featuring more prominently,” the WEF said.

David Pilla is news editor, BestWeek. He can be reached at

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