Global cities unprepared for emerging risks warns study

The world’s biggest cities remain unprepared to deal with the impacts of climate change or cyber-attack a new report has found.

Tokio Marine Group and Economist Impact have published the results of a major n study into the most prominent risks faced by global cities. It found cities across the world lack the infrastructure and robust environmental policies needed to combat the worsening impacts of climate change, according to the new report.

Examining critical facets of urban life, the Resilient Cities Index 2023, which was devised by Economist Impact and sponsored by Tokio Marine Group, investigated 25 global cities’ ability to evade, withstand, and recover from a spectrum of shocks and long-term stresses. Rapid urbanisation is making this threat more urgent. It added in a world hurtling toward a future where over two-thirds of the global population will reside in cities by 2050, urban areas stand as humanity’s frontline against the unpredictable challenges of the 21st century.

Tokio Marine said the goal of the research is to help measure the resilience of societies and cities, identify the gaps and challenges and give insights into the opportunities and the way forward.

One of the aims of the study is to examine how resilient global cities are against the ever-evolving cyber risks affecting businesses and wider society in an increasingly digitised world. Data shows that cyber-attacks on government agencies increased by 95% between 2021 and 2022, often posing a significant threat to the operation of critical infrastructure, as local authorities are becoming increasingly reliant on technology to deliver essential services.

Tokio Marine Group’s analysis suggests that cybercrime groups, disrupted by the war in Ukraine, are regaining their capabilities, increasing the volatility of the cyber threat landscape. As the geopolitical risk landscape broadens and cyber, with cyber now a key part of nations’ arsenals, cyber risks look set to increase further.

The index highlights that Cities of all sizes are vulnerable to cyber-attacks, with criminals developing increasingly intricate techniques to extract data as technological development intensifies. The global cities examined in this study are, by nature, integral to global financial systems, governmental infrastructures and supply chains, making them an especially attractive target for cyber criminals.

Paul Gooch, divisional head of Large Account Cyber, Tokio Marine Kiln, said: “No industry or city is immune from cyber-attacks and emerging risks created by our dependence on technology are broadening the threat spectrum. Since 2018, we have seen a huge increase in the volume and sophistication of attacks. While there was a temporary reduction at the outset of the conflict in Ukraine, as hacking groups were disrupted by the fighting, they are now reforming more determined than ever.

“We have seen, firsthand, the vital role which insurance can play in driving market maturation in emerging economies and how, by increasing insurance penetration, we can help businesses and communities back on their feet, swiftly, furnished with the means and expertise to rise stronger.

“As the pace of technological innovation continues to intensify and threat actors become increasingly sophisticated it is crucial for the insurance industry, alongside governments, businesses, and communities to take immediate action to mitigate the risks and build resilient cities.

The insurance industry must do more to convince businesses and policymakers globally of its value and capacity to insulate against an increasingly volatile climactic and technological risk landscape.”

While 19 out of the 25 global cities included in the Index scored well for cybersecurity preparedness, with a score of 75 out of 100 or above, significant gaps have been identified in the defences of some of the world’s major cities.

The study found that Dubai, Los Angeles, New York and Singapore are the global cities best prepared against cyber-attacks, while Dhaka, Lagos, Mexico City, New Delhi, Bangkok and Hong Kong are the lowest-ranked cities for cybersecurity preparedness. It is noteworthy that the lowest-scoring cities are predominantly in developing countries, highlighting that investment in cybersecurity and preparedness is the key to future-proofing cities and bolstering their resilience to growing cyber threats.

The best prepared cities have advanced technical barriers, such as tools to monitor network security, detect intrusions and identify security vulnerabilities, on top of efforts to protect key infrastructure, the report found. However, while such measures are financially out of reach for many global cities in developing countries, there are low-tech solutions available, which include collaborating with educational institutions to provide cybersecurity training and certify talent.

The study found that Dubai, Los Angeles, New York and Singapore are the global cities best prepared against cyber-attacks, while Dhaka, Lagos, Mexico City, New Delhi, Bangkok and Hong Kong (above) are the lowest-ranked cities for cybersecurity preparedness.