Climate change, cybersecurity and financial instability are among the top emerging risks for security leaders to watch, according to a survey of risk managers.

The 15th Annual Survey of Emerging Risks from the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS), the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA) and the Society of Actuaries (SOA) Research Institute asked 153 risk managers to rank their high-priority risks in the current threat landscape.

In 2021, risk managers ranked the following risks as the top emerging risks to watch in the coming years:

  1. Climate change
  2. Cyber/networks
  3. Pandemics/infectious diseases
  4. Disruptive technology
  5. Financial volatility

The top five emerging risks highlighted by the report remained identical to the 2020 risk predictions. However, when asked to rank their top current concern, risk managers named pandemics and infectious diseases as their highest priority current risk in 2021.

The report also analyzed risk trends in terms of their categories, including economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal and technological risks. Risk managers reported a slight increase in economic risk in 2021, although the category had steadily decreased since 2008.

The report noted an increase in environmental risk as well, which has been increasing since a low point in 2011. According to the report, environmental risk includes climate change, loss of freshwater services and natural catastrophes, such as tropical storms, earthquakes and severe weather. One-fifth of respondents ranked environmental risks within their top five emerging risks.

In 2021, the highest-ranking risk category for emerging threats was geopolitical risk, which includes terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, wars, failed/failing states, transnational crime, shifts in globalization and regional instability. Twenty-three percent of respondents included some aspect of geopolitical risk in their top five emerging risk ranking.

Learn more about risk trends by downloading the report here.