Control Risks Releases Top 5 Risks for Business in 2020

In 2020, fractious geopolitics, activism and cyber warfare meet economic anxiety and world leaders who can't see further than the next crisis. Businesses will need courage and self-reliance, says Control Risks.

LONDON, Dec. 9, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Fractious geopolitics in a US election year, a rising tide of global activism and a new level of cyber warfare are among the Top 5 risks for business in 2020, published today by Control Risks, the specialist global risk consultancy.

Charged with managing this perilous outlook is a crop of political leaders without strategies, who can't see further than the next crisis.

Businesses will need every ounce of courage, self-reliance and resilience to cope. The pace of events will be in the hands of twitchy protagonists. Business leaders must find strategies for an intensely tactical world.

"Global trends are now more set against the interests of international businesses than they have been for many years," comments Control Risks CEO, Nick Allan.

"Populism, activism, protectionism, sanctions and political disruption remain the canvas on to which business tries to build global markets and supply chains. It has not been easy in 2019 and it's going to get harder next year," Allan adds.

The global Top 5 Risks for Business in 2020

The Top 5 risks are released as part of Control Risks' annual RiskMap report, a global risk forecast for business leaders and policy makers across the world, published today.

  1. Geopolitics and the US campaign trail
    The US election campaign will have a palpable impact on geopolitics in 2020. The drama of the campaign trail combined with the disruption of the impeachment process will reverberate through America's global actions. Will stunt diplomacy try to distract from impeachment? Would a deal with China help or hurt President Trump's pitch to post-industrial workers? Will North Korea, Iran, and even Islamic State try to exploit the election cycle? How allies and adversaries hedge against the most ideological election in 40 years will heavily influence the geopolitical risk landscape for business in 2020.
  2. The activist society passes judgement
    Across the world, social pressures and coordinated activism around issues like environmental protection, political and human rights, inequality and privacy are demanding more and more from business. In the street, in shareholder meetings and in your company, the activist society will bang ever harder on the boardroom table in 2020. For companies, paralysis looms as myriad movements make demands that are increasingly loud and challenging. This uncodified morass of social, moral and political accountability will consume any company caught unawares. Conversely, companies that get this right will be embraced. Being ethical is not enough. Being compliant is not enough. Know what to stay ahead of in 2020.
  3. Cyber warfare hits a new level
    Cyber threats in 2020 will align as never before to provoke a high impact, cyber-enabled assault on critical infrastructure. Western deterrence has failed to stem the tide and hostile actors are using ever harder methods. The US will retaliate in ways that show the world it cares. In theatres of strategic conflict, unpalatable military measures will give way to cyber-attacks. And so will begin a new cycle of escalation: the west's cyber-capable rivals and their proxies will raise their game, with unpredictable consequences. If leading companies are attaining credible cyber resilience, national infrastructures across the globe are not and present the main vulnerability in the international cyber conflict.
  4. Economic anxiety meets political fragility
    Even the most optimistic forecasts say global economic growth in 2020 will be dismally low or, as our partners at Oxford Economics put it, "grinding". This, before any account of an economic shock that could shake an uneasy global economy. If global GDP takes a turn for the worse, we cannot expect a fragmented world to craft a coordinated policy response. Will countries riven by polarisation rally in the face of economic hardship? And what of economies dependent on resource riches, or those which still haven't fully recovered from 2008? In the event of a downturn – or even in the best of cases – which countries will survive, and which will go to the wall? Take a global tour of economic anxiety and political fragility.
  5. Leaders without strategies
    At the helm of some of the world's most important countries is a crop of leaders who can't see further than the next crisis. For them, tactics will trump strategy. 2020 is shaping up to be a year when the brakes on incident escalation are absent. This is a world where resilience at the state level is weak, and long-term solutions take too much time to find. Whether it's a global trade war, a cyber attack or a regional border skirmish, the pace of events is in the hand of twitchy, anxious protagonists. Business will need a strategy for an intensely tactical world.

The RiskMap 2020 website will be live from Monday, 9 December 2019. The world map with countries' political and security risk forecasts will be available to download here: 

For broadcast interviews:

Control Risks is equipped with an in-house Globelynx studio for live or pre-recorded broadcast interviews. To arrange an interview with one of our London-based experts, please contact 

Note to Editors:

About Control Risks

Control Risks is a specialist global risk consultancy that helps to create secure, compliant and resilient organisations in an age of ever-changing risk. Working across disciplines, technologies and geographies, everything we do is based on our belief that taking risks is essential to our clients' success. We provide our clients with the insight to focus resources and ensure they are prepared to resolve the issues and crises that occur in any ambitious global organisation. We go beyond problem-solving and provide the insight and intelligence needed to realise opportunities and grow.

For further information please contact:

Caspar Leighton
Global Content Director         
+44 (0)7712 391 228

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