Risk – The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same I – Society

The World Economic Forum‘s 7th annual Global Risks report was recently. Again chronicling dozens of risk divided into five categories, this report did a tremendous job of covering the types of risk that an average Supply Management organization needs to prepare for. What’s interesting about this report is how the biggest risks in many of the categories haven’t changed at all since last year. Take Society for instance. While it chronicled seven major risks in this category, the top two dwarf the other five and they are the exact same as last year.

02: Food Security

People need to eat. As a result, they need access to safe, secure sources of staple foods at an affordable price point. If they don’t have access to safe, secure sources of staple foods at an affordable price point, they riot — as we have seen in Tunisia, Algeria, Bangladesh, Mogadishu, India, China, and even the UK and Canada this year. When people riot, property gets destroyed — property that could include your delivery trucks, your goods in your warehouses, and even your production plants. Try ensuring supply with no distribution mechanisms for raw materials, no working production lines, and no warehouses to store anything.

01: Water Security

Not only do people need water, but supply chains need water. First of all, supply chains need energy. Energy production requires water (as per the Water Energy Nexus). For example, in the USA, about 2 US gallons of water evaporates to create one kilowatt hour of energy. Steel, which is a component of many goods, requires 62,000 gallons of water for the production of a single ton. Semi-conductor fabrication plants often require up to 2,000 gallons of water per minute. No water, no goods, no components, and no energy. And if water gets too scarce, so is food. And a vicious downward societal cycle will begin.

It should be obvious by now that while the risks of pandemic, chronic disease, religious fanaticism, migration, and age aren’t going away, they aren’t going to matter much if we don’t have the food and water to sustain ourselves.