What Global Risks will be faced in 2019 and 2020?

By: John Evans and Sofia Cardante of Front Sight Protection

Each year you will see lists of global risks from numerous security companies with no insight or analysis as to how they came up with these.  Many just pick buzzwords from the news and issues that they can profit on.  To truly create an accurate list of global risks, geopolitical and intelligence analysis needs to be conducted and in doing so multiple types of sources have to be reviewed.  These sources can range from news, social media, custodial criminal interviews, government investigations, to propaganda music and magazines, etc.  This is not academic; the .analysis needs to be conducted by seasoned Subject Matter Experts with at least 20 years of experience in intelligence, foreign operations, geopolitical, and criminal intelligence.  The below analysis of risks for 2019 and 2020 are based on these types of analysis.

  1. U.S. Legislative Turmoil – Foreign and Domestic: U.S. Political party tensions and lack of compromises between parties will cause foreign aid to military engagements to be reduced or slow to engage.  International trade issues with the U.S. and globally without unity with the U.S. will lead to businesses being subject to retribution by host governments. This can be seen in recent arrests of U.S. business executives in China and Russia.
  2. Active Shooter Attacks: As tensions continue to rise over austerity measures, political corruption, politics, and disparaging comments from news, the threats of people using a firearm or knife to attack citizens will increase.  Attacks will typically occur at business locations, schools, shopping malls, movie theaters, parks, outdoor concert venues, etc. Current restrictions of law enforcement hamper proactive mitigation.
  3. Vaccination Resistance: With the ever growing migration of people from not only one country to another, but also from one continent to another, once believed eradicated viruses can revive.  Along with migration, the simple fact that more businesses are becoming multinational with more employees traveling, the threat from virus spreading is higher. The four typical reasons people usually say when asked about why they refuse to vaccinate are: religious beliefs, personal beliefs, safety, and lack of information about the vaccination.
  4. Corporate Espionage: As trade disputes, economic fluctuations, and nationalization continues to grow, the need for countries to become self-sufficient will continue to increase.  As businesses continue to become multinational and participate in joint venture endeavors, the threat of trade secrets being stolen rises.
  5. Continued Encroachment by China in the South China Sea: As China continues to usurp control over this area; the dispute involves conflicting claims of sovereignty over the Spratlys will continue.  This controversy could lead to supply chain and/or trade issues and in the worst case scenario, civil conflict for countries in the area.
  6. Cyberattacks: Once a tool used to discredit or embarrass companies, now is a tool utilized to steal data for personal financial gain or by countries to steal intellectual property. As more of our daily lives and work functions become automated, the threat of cybercrime will continue to rise.  War doctrines by many countries of conducting cyberattacks prior to physical conflict are now being used by these same countries in order to cause civil and financial discord.  From ransomware to data breaches, the threat continues to rise every day.
  7. Civil Disorder: As more people become disenfranchised and feel that they are entitled to state benefits rather than what is earned, threats to governments and businesses will continue to rise. This can be seen in the growth of socialism and cries for changes of current democratic governments in the world, even though every country under the socialist governmental system has failed.  More and more, businesses and governments are agreeing to the demands of protesters or employees’ striking, thus causing more acts of civil disorder to occur as their organizers know that the authorities will cave to their demands.
  8. Brexit: The decision by the UK to leave the EU will have long lasting effects that may cause serious issues with trade, visas, supply chains, transportation, etc.  Depending on the outcome of the departure and its impact both positive and negative on the UK, this could cause other countries to decide to leave the EU.  This decision to leave the EU could cause widespread issues along the EU’s 43 free trade agreements (FTAs) and 12 regional and bilateral trade agreements.
  9. Climate Change: The increase in the global temperature caused by Greenhouses gases (i.e. carbon dioxide) is significantly altering the world’s climate, resulting in more extreme and unpredictable weather.  The potential future effects include more frequent wildfires, longer periods of drought in some regions and an increase in the number, duration and intensity of tropical storms.
  10. Fake News: Misinformation can lead to civil, financial and international disputes.  With current technology and the 24/7 news cycle, false news stories can have damaging effects, both domestically and internationally.
  11. Natural Disasters: Some natural disasters have little or no warning, are generally short in duration and can cause severe damage. On the other hand, other disasters can occur with a fair amount of notice.  Nonetheless, planning is necessary for both individuals and businesses.  In order to prevail against disasters, decision makers must come to realize that this is a collective, not an individual effort.  To lessen the impact caused by the disaster, people need to be educated and trained on how to respond.
  12. Conflict in southeastern Ukraine with Russia:  When the world did not respond to Russia’s annexing of the Crimean Peninsula, it showed the Russian government that they would not face international scrutiny over geopolitical activities. The Kerch Straits, seems to be the next area where Russia is determined to show national ownership, as can be seen in the Russian military capturing Ukrainian vessels and shutting off ports from international shipping.
  13. Foreign Fighters and ISIS Brides: Many counties had not only citizens that went to the Middle East to fight for ISIS, but they had women who left to wed and have children with ISIS fighters.  With media and governments claiming victory over ISIS, many of these fighters and brides now want to return to their birth countries. As such there are many reasons to not allow them to return, such as being used for new propaganda, recruitment, fundraising, etc.  Germany is the first country to take a stand in this topic and remove citizenship from German citizens who left to fight with ISIS.
  14. Medical Outbreaks and Pandemics: While technology and medical advancements allow for detection and rapid responses, many health risks plague the world.  The globalization of the workforce, refugee migration, animal-to-human infectious pathogens, antimicrobial resistance, anti-vaxxer movement, and limited healthcare infrastructures all are causing these outbreaks to increase.  As a result, many diseases once eliminated are returning and have transformed into vaccine resistant strains.

Regardless of year, the risk of terrorism is a constant threat in any country from adversaries, both foreign and domestic.

Terrorism: The threat from terrorism is still present and will remain so globally.  This can be seen in the latest terrorist attack on March 5, 2019 at the Al Noor and Linwood Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.  After the attack, on March 18, ISIS spokesperson, Abu Hussan al-Muhajir, condemned the attack and disputed that they were defeated.  While it is left to governments to declare an attack as terrorism or not, the simple truth remains that regardless of what you call it, attacks will continue to happen in attempts to overthrow governments, to cause panic, against other religions, etc., Instead of worrying about naming and political fallout from an attack, world leaders should look at what is causing radicalization to increase, and place mitigation strategies to prevent attacks from happening.

John Evans, TLO, WVTS, CHPP – Chief Operations Officer for Front Sight Protection.  Mr. Evans joined Front Sight Protection with 20 years of experience in security, intelligence, counterintelligence, crisis management, critical infrastructure protection and executive protection for high profile clients.

Sofia Cardante, WVTS – Office and Risk Manager for Front Sight Protection.  At Front Sight Protection, Mrs. Cardante is responsible for assessing risk related to overseas travel as well as monitoring ongoing international developments for risk mitigation, preparedness and/or immediate response to recovery. As such Mrs. Cardante plays a key role in coordinating communications on global risk and safety as well as collaboration with in-country resources, government contacts and emergency response offices.