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Risk Advisory launches sixth annual forecast for security and intelligence leaders

by Brian Sims

Strategic Outlook 2020 is Risk Advisory’s sixth annual forecast for security and intelligence leaders in global businesses, Governments and international organisations. The document conveys the joint assessments of Risk Advisory’s regional and thematic intelligence analysts and contains upwards of 300 forecasts on a range of issues relevant to security, crisis and geopolitical risk across every region.

Intended to be a practical working document, the Strategic Outlook also provides early warning indicators to watch through 2020. It flags outliers to challenge assumptions and encourage anticipation of higher-impact surprise events. In addition, it provides thematic analysis across different regions to help readers interpret and predict intentions, actions and outcomes in 2020.

Produced primarily for Risk Advisory’s Security Intelligence and Analysis Service, the Strategic Outlook is deemed to be essential reading for anyone concerned with and making decisions about geopolitical and security risks and how to manage them.

The Strategic Outlook 2020 contains:

*Trend indicators: These are net judgements on whether Risk Advisory expects, on balance, security and political risks to grow, stabilise or lessen over the course of 2020.

*Regional keynote: Each regional section highlights the themes and trends that the company thinks will define and shape events in the coming year. These contain specific forecasts, but also aim to serve as a lens through which to interpret and anticipate the causes and impacts of risks in 2020

*Infographics: Risk Advisory uses a variety of infographics to illustrate its assessments, the basis of its ideas and causal relations and to ensure that the overall outlook is easy to grasp and succinct

*Forecasts: These convey specific forecasts on important issues not covered in the regional keynote assessments and aim to capture the most probable priority risks and developments

*Outliers: These convey specific forecasts on important issues not covered in the regional keynote assessments and aim to capture the most probable priority risks and developments

*Monitoring points: Early warning indicators to watch. They are specific information points or developments that Risk Advisory flags in order to help readers track whether the company’s forecasts in the regional keynote are on their way to realisation or taking a different trajectory

Understanding transformation and change

Henry Wilkinson, head of intelligence analysis, a director at Risk Advisory and the Editor of the new report, stated: “The Strategic Outlook 2020 aims to help Risk Advisory’s clients better understand transformation and change in the global risk environment, anticipate and plan for crises and foresee improvements to gain an early commercial advantage. Forecasting is not an exact science, but it’s an essential process that starts conversations and the process of building resilience. Our assessments show that the need for global businesses to take Board-level ownership of geopolitical risks, and invest in intelligence that one can trust amid a growing tide of disinformation, has never been more urgent or important.”

Wilkinson added: “Strategic Outlook is intended to encourage our clients to consider, discuss and plan for future risk scenarios and to reduce the risk of surprise by stimulating forethought. For us, it informs our intelligence collection and plans and resourcing for the coming year.”

Wilkinson observed: “A polarised geopolitical landscape will push up reputational and political risks for global businesses in 2020. It’s becoming harder for companies to sidestep controversial or divisive issues. Employees, customers and Governments are scrutinising their choices more closely. Internal and external pressures are likely to rise, in turn rendering strategic decision-making more complex for organisations. They will increasingly need to think about how a corporate foreign policy may help them navigate risks. Businesses with supply chains that bridge the gap between the US and China are likely to see their exposure to reputational risk increase amid the ongoing trade war.”

The business is forecasting that 2020 will be the year when climate change-related terrorism starts to become a new normal. As the impacts of climate change become more acute, and the sense of existential emergency is more widely felt, climate activism will probably become more radical and violent. Activists on the left and right are already using climate change to rally people. Business and Governments have traditionally been targets for climate activism, of course, but Risk Advisory suggests that right-wing extremists are likely to use climate change to justify violence perpetrated against their perceived adversaries.

In conclusion, Wilkinson commented: “The threat of right-wing terrorism will remain the most acute in the UK. We forecast that extreme-right plots to overtake Jihadist plots for the first time. The UK has some of the most established neo-Nazi organisations. Britain will probably also remain the principal exporter of extreme-right ideology across Europe, with ideas of siege culture and racial holy war the key ideological trends promoting violence. The main source of political instability and disquiet, however, will remain the UK’s relationship with the European Union. The prospect of British politics becoming less polarised and hateful, from Parliament right through to the people, is far off.”

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