Emerging risks – SONAR 2022 – Swiss Re

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This year's emerging risks arise from climate change and the transition to a low-carbon economy, real and hyped technological disruptions, and increased global uncertainty and risk awareness. In addition, SONAR looks back at lessons learned to mark its 10-year anniversary.
As the world grapples with a war in Ukraine, the effects from a still ongoing pandemic and economic uncertainty, risk foresight is ever more important. One emerging risk that is here to stay is climate change, a recurring SONAR theme. This year, we examine how thawing permafrost could lead to property damage, but also affect human and animal health as ancient pathogens are released from previously frozen ground. Another threat are non-native species which are imported for climate change adaption, but turn out to be invasive and endanger endemic species and ecosystems.
Combatting climate change requires achieving net-zero emissions. As decarbonisation efforts gain traction globally, we highlight the role insurers can play in supporting sustainable farming and new fuels in the shipping industry.
Technology regularly features in our emerging risks. This edition explores new applications of artificial intelligence in law, automated underwriting, endeavours in outer space, and scientific breakthroughs in biotech. We look at the risks and opportunities in new markets arising from technological advances, such as fertility services, quantum computing and cryptocurrencies.
Economic stresses from the war and pandemic are causing supply chain disruptions. We believe raw material shortages and rising prices due to inflation pose a risk to the construction quality and durability of buildings. Current global challenges also have heightened society's risk awareness. The COVID-19 pandemic has undermined trust between large groups in the population and government officials as well as academic experts. We look at how conspiracy theories and alternative views on health could foster harmful behaviour and weaken societal resilience, particularly in future health crises.
Lastly, we review selected risks we flagged over the last decade. Among them are threats from infectious diseases, risks from climate change and the transition to a low-carbon economy, and dangers in digitalisation. In hindsight, some of our emerging risk signals proved prophetic. This reminds us of the importance of raising risk awareness and sharing insights to mitigate emerging risks.
Head Sustainability, Emerging & PRM

Senior Risk Manager
Group Risk Management
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