At Forrester’s upcoming Privacy & Security Europe 2018 Forum, I’ll be presenting on a topic that I’m both personally and professionally passionate about: climate change adaptation. Forrester prides itself on providing actionable advice to help business and technology leaders build customer-obsessed strategies that drive growth. And so I suspect many of you are surprised by Forrester prioritizing research and best practices on climate change adaptation — and making it a prominent focus at a privacy and security event. Given that only 30% of enterprises feel ready for GDPR and at least 52% of enterprises have suffered at least one breach in the last 12 months, don’t privacy, security, and other risk pros have more pressing problems? Here’s why I think every business should care and why I’m hoping you’ll join me for my talk:

  • We’re already feeling the impact. Take, for example, the intense heat wave that affected Europe this summer: The World Weather Attribution (WWA) consortium analyzed this year’s temperatures and came to the “confident” conclusion that such heat waves are now more than twice as likely as they were before human activity altered the climate. The soaring temperatures were blamed for wildfires, crop failures, an increase in mortality rates for the elderly, and disruptions to power generation.
  • BC pros will need to take the lead on planning for the increasing frequency of acute events. Business continuity (BC) pros will need to take the lead on planning for the increasing frequency and intensity of not just those heat waves and wildfires but also hurricanes, flooding, and other natural disasters/extreme weather events. Plus, the extreme weather will exacerbate power shortages and outages — which is actually the No. 1 or No. 2 cause of most business and IT disruptions. As CISOs have made the transition from security ops leaders to overall leaders of information and technology risk, I’ve found that many CISOs are either fully or mostly responsible for BC preparedness. And those that aren’t are still usually prominent contributors to BC planning.
  • Customers, employees, and partners are already demanding change. We’ve interviewed many companies that told us that strategic partners are already insisting on sustainability and resiliency conditions in third-party agreements. Further, institutional investors are demanding transparency and assessments of the financial impact of climate change and are divesting from businesses they deem too exposed to climate risk. We’ve also found that customers and employees care about corporate actions on climate change. This concern influences who they’ll do business with and who they’ll go to work for. Interestingly, we’ve also found that there is a significant overlap between green-conscious consumers and privacy-conscious consumers. Thus, if you pair advanced privacy and cybersecurity practices with action on climate change, you can address two of their top concerns.
  • A lack of leadership and preparedness could make you a hacktivist target. Individual sentiment has changed rapidly when it comes to climate change, so companies that fail to take a leadership role in limiting greenhouse gases (GHGs) or advancing sustainability or fail to be authentic (firms whose corporate social responsibility messaging is discordant with their actual practices) run the risk of making themselves a target of social or political hacktivists. These days, hacktivists can martial the multiplying effect of social media, automated bots, and almost limitless compute resources to launch a devastating reputational attack/influence campaign on a brand with misleading content (or by highlighting true content, in the case of ethically rudderless polluters). When your brand takes a hit, it’s a long journey to recovery.

So I hope I’ve convinced you just how truly important climate change adaptation is, and I hope you’ll join me in London on October 9–10 for two days of thought-leading content on current and emerging topics across the spectrum of privacy and security.
And for those of you based in North America, the Washington, D.C. Forum is coming up on September 25–26.