New Zealand’s latest biodefense assessment published by its Ministry of Defence incorporates a “converging risks” approach by spotlighting the intersection of biological and climate threats and their attendant security implications. Persistent and intensifying disruptors highlighted in the report include:
Climate change– Increasing temperatures, and more severe and intense winds and rainfall
Globalization– Accessibility of knowledge, movement of people, global trade, land-use change, transnational organised crime
Technology– Proliferation of advanced specific and generalised technology such as weaponised synthetic biology
Violent extremism– Terrorism
Misinformation/disinformation– Degradation of integrity of information
Challenges to rules and norms – Hybrid warfare, use of CBR
These vectors can follow innumerable pathways and alter the risk profiles of biological hazards. Environmental, accidental, or deliberate biological threats can also lead to cascading effects that can affect the economy, human and animal health, resource security, and public trust, among other factors. Covid-19 illustrates the scale at which this sort of ripple effect can permeate a society and exacerbate pre-existing vulnerabilities.
New Zealand utilizes an “all hazards” foundational approach through a network of government agencies tasked with mitigating specific risks under both “business as usual” and crisis response scenarios. The country’s Defense Force expects to be called upon more frequently to assist with a broader range of biological incidents, both domestically and regionally.
CSR’s Converging Risks Lab understands these rising threats and plans to further investigate these convergences in the coming months.