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  • Climate Change Risks Exposed: International SOS Data Highlights Urgent Need for Preparedness, Sharing Key Advice for Businesses

    Published on February 29, 2024

     International SOS, the world’s leading health and security services company, today highlights insight from the International SOS Risk Outlook 2024 report[1], shedding light on the profound impact of climate change on businesses worldwide. The report reveals important statistics, indicating a growing awareness among respondents regarding the significant ramifications of climate-related phenomena on various aspects of operations and employee wellbeing. This is not a surprise for many, as 72% of respondents believe that extreme weather events will have a significant impact on their business or people in 2024, underscoring the tangible impact of environmental shifts expected on business operations.

    The International SOS Risk Outlook 2024 report also outlines the diverse consequences for the workforce, including increased health risks such as heat-related illnesses and associated decreased productivity. Extreme weather events also have the potential to lead to disruptions in global supply chains. Beyond the physical implications, mental health and absenteeism are also key factors, as climate anxiety grips people across the world.

    Looking ahead; what will the impact be in 2024:

    ·         48% of respondents reported that climate change anxiety is an issue that they have encountered among their workforces.

    ·         42% of respondents think that their organisation is not necessarily fully prepared to respond to / mitigate disruptions caused by climate activism.

    ·         41% of respondents think that their organisation is not necessarily fully prepared to respond to / mitigate environmental threats.

    ·         26% of respondents have already reported operational disruption attributed to climate change.

    Commenting on the medical outlook, Dr Vikram Vora, Medical Director – Indian Subcontinent cautions, “We are witnessing an increased severity of extreme weather events like storms, wildfires, and cloudbursts in the past years. Worsening air quality and the emergence of new diseases are concerning trends. The progressive worsening of heat waves has raised an alarm that we may approach the human limits of survivability by mid-century. While the physical impact of climate change on vulnerable populations is obvious, the not-so-visible damage that any climate event can cause to mental health is far more serious and will affect more people across all age groups. While organisations have been trying to reduce the impact of their actions on the environment, it has now become crucial for them to protect their people from the health and wellbeing consequences of climate change.”

    “At International SOS, we saw a significant increase in the number of climate-related alerts we issued last year. Throughout January – November 2023, we saw a fourfold increase in climate related alerts issued to our clients, with 80% more medical climate-related alerts compared to the previous year. This surge underscores the critical need for organisations to understand the complex interplay between climate change and health risks.”

    Udit Mehta, Executive Vice President and Director of Operations for International SOS thinks that organisations should take heed from the losses that can be incurred by extreme weather events, investing in climate preparedness can help ensure a business weathers a storm. “Climate change is of course a key environmental concern, but importantly, also a critical factor intensifying risks for individuals and companies. Although until recently, climate change has rarely been seen as the singular driver of conflict or security issues, the impacts of climate change considerably exacerbate existing tensions, vulnerabilities and operational challenges. The cascading impacts of climate change can be the spark that ignites civil unrest, violence and security issues at high level, as well as amplifies existing political and socio-economic insecurities.

    “It is more important than ever for organisations monitor these events, prioritise climate resilience and incorporate proactive measures into their operational frameworks. This year, the International SOS Risk Map 2024 includes a layer which outlines climate change risks, an important tool for strategic planning. This provides quantified estimates of the impacts of climate change on the future risk of humanitarian crises and disasters. This risk index is intended to inform policy choices across climate mitigation and adaptation, disaster risk reduction, sustainable development and humanitarian assistance for greater resilience to the adverse impacts of climate change.”

    Top Five Practical Measures for Organisations to Mitigate Climate Change Risks and Safeguard their Workforce in 2024:

    1.    Develop a comprehensive climate risk management plan: strategically map climate change impacts on operations to inform mitigation strategies and investments effectively.

    2.    Engage employees across the organisation: foster collaboration among HR, risk managers, and the C-suite to harness diverse expertise in combating climate-related risks.

    3.    Enhance security protocols and prioritise medical preparedness: establish a system to identify, assess, and control health and security risks related to climate change. Understand the capacity of local healthcare facilities and ensure access to medical care during disruptions.

    4.    Provide workforce with adequate emotional support solutions: implement programmes to address the mental health impacts of climate change on employees, such as anxiety, stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

    5.    Leverage external expertise and data: harness the insights and support of third-party experts to conduct a climate vulnerability risk assessment and learn best practice to navigate the complexities of climate risk management effectively.

    As businesses navigate the evolving landscape shaped by climate change, International SOS remains committed to providing essential guidance and support to ensure the safety and wellbeing of employees worldwide.


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