The ongoing crisis in Sudan continues to be a source of concern, with many governments worldwide calling for a ceasefire to ensure stability in the already fragile region.
International SOS understands the fragility and volatility of these situations and were monitoring the possibility of the situation escalating even before the trigger event on April 15th. With this proactive monitoring and preparation, we were able to evacuate and ensure the safety of our clients’ workforces in the region.
The crisis in Sudan, alongside ongoing crises such as the Ukraine conflict, has once again emphasised the need to prioritise geopolitical threats on the corporate risk agenda.
As we surpass 14 months since the Ukraine conflict began, our experts reflect on some of the strategies that have helped our clients ensure business continuity during the crisis.
1. Intelligence gathering
Months before the Sudan crisis, our experts were monitoring the situation and gathering intelligence to identify potential trigger-events. With frequent situational updates we assisted our clients in understanding the potential evolution of the situation and how it could potentially impact their people, as well as our own internal preparation for a potential deterioration.
When it comes to security incidents, particularly in geopolitical crises like this one, the situation can evolve rapidly. For example, the Ukraine conflict as well as the Sudan crisis has demonstrated the importance of having access to real-time, up-to-date information to make critical decisions in a timely and efficient manner. Additionally, access to experts on-the-ground has also shown critical importance, as they can provide actionable security advice and information on potential threats so that the workforce is fully aware of the developing situation and what to do accordingly.
Above considered with proactive monitoring and thorough preparation for possible outcomes, organisations can ensure that procedures are in place if the situation escalates.
2. Preparing for geopolitical instability
The global impact of the Ukraine conflict is predicted to remain within the global risk landscape in 2023 and beyond. From our recent Risk Outlook 2023 research, almost half of respondents from various industries raised concerns about the impacts of geopolitics on everything from workforce risk management to business travelers productivity in the next 12 months.
With the still increasing tensions between Russia and the west, this is also expected to impact other conflicts around the globe and exacerbate other longstanding geopolitical tensions. In the African continent over that last two years, we have seen an uptick in the impacts of volatile geopolitical situations, recently Sudan.
To effectively prepare for this geopolitical instability and protect the security of your workforce and operations, organisations need to ensure that early warning systems are in place to monitor and forecast emerging risks.
This enables organisations to anticipate likely situations and potential impacts mapped to their workforce and operations allowing early identification of crisis triggers for critical decisions to be made in advance. Such triggers are a pivotal component of information to key stakeholders for timely decision making.
3. Incident and Crisis Response
Effective incident and crisis response is not only vital for the safety and well-being of your workforce but also to mitigate potential impacts on business continuity. In times of geopolitical instability and social unrest, it is critical to have procedures and systems in place to quickly locate and communicate with your affected personnel.
For example, at the beginning of the Sudan crisis, our clients were able to identify those of their employees impacted, determine their safety and wellbeing, and arrange any support or evacuation efforts as soon as they are needed. A comprehensive communication system is essential for an efficient and reliable incident response process that prioritises people safety.
A clear and robust incident and crisis response plan also helps maintain business continuity by minimising disruptions caused by a crisis. By outlining clear procedures for responding to a crisis before, during, and after it occurs, organisations can respond quickly and effectively, mitigating the crisis' impact on business continuity and preventing it from escalating.
These plans should remain agile, being reviewed and updated regularly by experts, internally and externally, aligning them with standards such as the ISO 31030:2021 Travel Risk Management standard or the ISO22361:2022 Crisis Management Guideline. These plans then need to be tested through simulations, both to build the knowledge internally of how to handle different scenarios as well as stress test the governance in a crisis, all with the purpose of keeping the workforce safe and having the right solutions at hand when the next challenge comes around.
Upcoming challenges and how we can help
The ramifications of the current polycrisis are already felt by many organisations globally. Misinformation and disinformation will remain a challenge which emphasises the importance of access to accurate information.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2023 coined the term, Polycrisis, to explain the crises resulting from the compounded effects of a cluster of related global risks. Together with the existence of health and security risks, it emphasises the fragility of the world and stresses the need to have a reliable global assistance provider to guide your organisation through the phases of crises.
International SOS has always been in the forefront in ensuring organisations and their people are safe when faced with geopolitical risks. Our boots-on-the-ground capabilities and 24/7 information and analysis teams relay verified, accurate and timely information to your people when they need it most through our Assistance App.
For a more proactive approach, our security and crisis management consulting experts will equip you with the knowledge and plans to better prepare your organisation and workforce should a crisis arise.