Risks Borne from Geopolitical Shifts will be the Most Important Mobility Challenge for Businesses in 2020

Given the uncertain geopolitical landscape in 2020 and multiplicity of threats, organisations should seek to understand which of these are most likely to impact them. This should be based on concerns such as their industry and geographic exposure and commence planning based on the risk the events may pose to them and their people, around the probability and impact nexus. 

This planning should include access to timely and insightful intelligence that can be both broad and tailored to the company’s specific profile and need. This is in addition to escalation triggers tied to organisational responses such as limiting travel to certain locations, enhancing the precautions taken by those in-country, training requirements for staff, or testing response plans. 

The tools available for managers and travellers alike, to help them understand these events, plan for their impact and respond to them if, or when, they materialise will then need to be clearly communicated to the relevant stakeholders in an organisation based on their roles and responsibilities.

The Key 2020 Shifts you Need to Consider


  1. United States Presidential Election: November 2020 will see a choice made in the US that will have a direct impact on security across many countries. The role of the US on the world stage and its bilateral relationships especially will be a key focus area for those watching the election from a foreign policy perspective. In the run-up, domestic tensions in the US in addition to foreign actors seeking to use the US electoral cycle for their own ends are likely to have local and transnational impacts.
  2. Changing nature of US involvement in the Middle East. Through the presidencies of Barack Obama and Donald Trump, the scope of US involvement in the Middle East has shifted, which has allowed other actors to play increasingly visible roles and forced US allies to develop broader ties in order to further their own security interests. Whether in Syria and Turkey, Iraq, or the Gulf, the complex regional landscape will continue to shift, with various potential escalation spikes and also possible improvements in certain locations.
  3. Tensions in the Korean peninsula: talks between North Korea and the US need to be closely followed. Without talks progressing, the North is increasingly likely to overplay its efforts to pressure the US, risking an escalation in 2020, particularly as the Trump administration may perceive the need to respond to provocations moving into the election season.
  4. US-China: competition is expected to intensify in the geopolitical and trade space. Assertive moves by the US on bilateral trade issues could prompt retaliatory actions from China. Any tension between the two could have profound consequences on South East Asian economies especially given close diplomatic and trade ties.
  5. Terrorism. This threat is globally-applicable, with different ideologies posing differing threats, depending on the region. In the Salafi-jihadist space, the threat will be of increasing relevance in South & South-East Asia, Europe, the Sahel and parts of the Middle East into 2020. With the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the threat posed by IS remains broadly undiminished; indeed 2019 saw notable geographic expansion of IS’s declared focus areas and the threat posed by the group and al-Qaeda will likely grow into 2020. The threat posed by right-wing terrorism will also continue to be worth monitoring, building on existing trends in both Europe and North America especially.
  6. South America – popular uprisings: the autumn of 2019 saw popular protests in Chile, Bolivia and Haiti, with economic and social issues, disputed elections, and enduring poor provision of services and infrastructure, along with allegations of corruption and mismanagement respectively driving these. Many of the underlying grievances in South American countries will endure into 2020, even if the current round of protests are contained in the short term.
  7. Europe – social disturbances and identity politics. We expect the trends from 2019 – and indeed before – in terms of social disturbances, often driven by identity politics, to endure into 2020. The underlying drivers for this – including economic inequality and stagnation, populism, increasingly vocal supporters on both sides of key debates around climate change, social and economic policies, and flows of people out of conflict zones and other insecure environments – are all set to continue into 2020.
  8. The role of Russia as a major global player in the face of US retreat. Russia is set to further develop its role on the continent of Africa and in the Middle East especially, as it seeks to take advantage of space vacated in part by America. The impacts of this are likely to be felt in a variety of ways, long and short term. Russia’s approach to democracy and governance and its expectations of its partners and allies may have knock-on impacts on various countries’ domestic security environments.

Geopolitical risks are just one of our ten predictions for 2020. To find out more, register for one of our live webcasts here