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Climate emergency - are you a dinosaur?

66 million years ago, the dominant species on planet earth, the dinosaur, became extinct. They did not have global connectivity, early warning systems or opposable digits. They died unaware of their peril, doing what they had always done.

We are now the dominant species on earth. Dinosaurs, despite their intelligence, had not evolved to conceive an industrial revolution, to innovate into the digital age or create an early warning system for a meteor strike. The dinosaur did not manage its risks. We do.

We feel safe today because we no longer depend on our immediate environment, we are global citizens in every aspect of our lives. We are superior to the dinosaur. Or are we?

This video from the UN presents an imagined conversation between dinosaur and man, in which dinosaur tells man how to avoid extinction. 

Climate risk has appeared on risk registers for many years. It is not a new risk.

But we must adapt. And risk management will need to adapt too.

Decision-makers face tough choices. Choices that will test existing risk appetites and challenge espoused values.

Risk management is a fundamental element of good governance. Organisations of all sizes with or without risk functions have developed practices to identify and manage their risks.

And therein lays the heart of the problem…their risks.

The premise of risk management is the achievement of a mission, a goal, an objective, a strategy. In our volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, these are often individualistic and insular. Organisations compete against one another and governments protect their own interests.

Climate risk management requires collaboration and collective compromise. Unintentionally, risk management has encouraged us to be insular.

Maybe we are dinosaurs after all.

But we don’t have to be….

  • How can internal auditors adapt existing tools and concepts to address the climate emergency?
  • How will we ensure urgency in decision-making?
  • How can we compel risk evaluation beyond the boundaries of a single entity?
  • How will we inspire uptake of disruptive risk treatments to address issues?
  • How agile can we be in delivering change before it’s too late?

What will history say of us?

Content reviewed: 1 February 2023