• Top risks facing NZ businesses today

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has today published its survey on ‘Regional Risks for Doing Business 2020’ which has identified that the top risk concern facing businesses in New Zealand today is that of natural catastrophes.

The survey, which was produced in partnership with Zurich Insurance and Marsh & McLennan Companies, included the input of over 12,000 business leaders from 127 countries who were each asked to determine “the five global risks that you believe to be of most concern for doing business in your country within the next 10 years.”

The top five risks identified as facing businesses operating in New Zealand are outlined below (as compared with the top risks identified last year):

Rank                           Top Risks 2020                                                  Top Risks 2019

1                                  Natural catastrophes                                          Natural Catastrophes

2                                 Spread of infectious diseases                             Cyber attacks

3                                 Cyber attacks                                                      Failure of Critical Infrastructure

4                                 Fiscal crises                                                         Failure of urban planning

5                                 Failure of climate change adaption                    Extreme weather events


Globally, WEF’s survey found that unemployment is the upmost concern among business executives. Infectious diseases is the second most recurring risk, appearing on the top 10 list in all regions except South Asia. Meanwhile, fiscal crises, which featured as last year’s top concern globally, registered at third place this year.

The top five risks across all regions are as follows:

Rank                            Risk

1                                   Unemployment

2                                  Spread of infectious diseases

3                                  Fiscal crises

4                                  Cyber attacks

5                                  Profound social instability


“The employment disruptions caused by the pandemic, rising automation and the transition to greener economies are fundamentally changing labour markets,” said WEF managing director Saadia Zahidi. “As we emerge from the crisis, leaders have a remarkable opportunity to create new jobs, support living wages, and reimagine social safety nets to adequately meet the challenges in the labour markets of tomorrow.”

Zurich Insurance group chief risk officer Peter Giger highlighted that the pandemic is distracting businesses from the long-term risks that will remain once the current crisis is resolved. The pandemic is, however, having the positive effect of leading many to reassess priorities, he said, which he hopes will ensure that businesses advance their risk resilience strategies, and result in decisive and impactful action to combat existential risks like climate change.

“The COVID-19 crisis has shone a spotlight on organisational resilience. As firms look to the future, they are matching their risk and resilience arrangements with a threat landscape marked by significant customer and workforce behavioural shifts,” commented Marsh president and CEO John Doyle. “To optimise recovery, organisations will need to build greater preparedness into their business models in order to be more resilient in the face of future disruptions.”


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