We left behind 2021 by discussing the coronavirus variants, the vaccine struggles of the World Health Organization (WHO) and of individual countries, and the pandemic’s primary and secondary effects on the global economy and commerce. However, although the number of cases in the fourth and fifth waves have again reached serious levels, the risk perception toward the pandemic has decreased. The intensive care rates from the new variants have remained very low and countries do not feel the need or do not want to take measures restricting economic life.
By conducting its yearly survey with senior executives of 50,000 leading companies, Axa, a leading insurance and reinsurance company, completed the 2021 edition of its study on the priority risks on a global scale. The study showed that the risk of infectious diseases and pandemics has decreased by two places to become No. 3. In 2020, the same risk had climbed seven spots to become the No. 1 risk. The risk of climate change and cybersecurity, which constituted the first two spots until 2020, regressed to second and third in 2020 and, in 2021, with the rapid rise of the former risk, were back to being ranked as the two highest risks.
Therefore, in 2022, global climate change is likely to remain on the agenda as large-scale natural disasters are expected, while several studies and projects will aim to prevent it, financial discussions will be focused against it. Moreover, the discussions to ban fossil fuels, especially coal, will intensify with regards to the fact that the greenhouse gas effect and carbon emissions are seen as important causes of climate change. For this reason, we will see that the related concepts of “climate security,” “climate diplomacy” and “climate migration” will continue to be at the top of the agenda for both G-20 and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.
The other headline is cybersecurity. Considering the United States, the European Union, Russia and China accuse each other of cyber-attacks or cyber-terrorism attempts, it can be said that this topic will occupy the world’s agenda. On both global and national scales, there will be a lot of discussion on the economic and financial side of the issue as billions of dollars are paid each year for cybersecurity violations in costs and losses.
There are numerous subheadings in relation to cyber-attacks, and the annual cost is expected to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025 on a global scale. Here are some of them: stealing information, seizing the information of companies or individuals for ransom, crashing and destroying all information and technology platforms of a company or an individual, emptying some or all of the financial accounts of a company or an individual, and so on.
For this reason, the world's leading companies allocate almost 3.5% to 5% of their annual turnover for insurance and payment obligations to cover the costs of cybersecurity and cyber-attacks. 2022 is already being named by many international think tanks as the year where the Cold War era of cyber attacks will be experienced. Therefore, it is worrisome that there might be an explosion of disinformation attacks and information espionage between countries and companies using artificial intelligence and fake images and sounds. 2022 will be a year that we will follow closely.
When we look at the respective priorities of the continents regarding risk perception, the first three risk headings of the European continent are climate change, cybersecurity and the pandemic. For Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, it is the pandemic, cybersecurity and climate change. For Africa, it is the pandemic, cybersecurity and geopolitical instability. For the Americas, it is cybersecurity, climate change and the pandemic. Hopefully, international institutions will take the risk of cybersecurity with the required seriousness that it deserves – at least as much as the climate and pandemic – during 2022.