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City leaders will need to identify the tangible risks facing cities as a result of COVID-19. As a first step of the Dynamic Risk Assessment KPMG professionals sought to identify the most severe and likely risks affecting cities as a result of COVID-19.

The most likely and severe discrete risk identified through the Dynamic Risk Assessment was economic crisis. If triggered, this risk has the greatest potential negative impact on cities. 

Additionally, the following risks were noted as having a high likelihood of materializing with high-degrees of severity.

  • Funding availability;
  • Inequitable effects of the pandemic;
  • Pandemic health response;
  • rust, leadership and politics;
  • Risk management and crisis planning; and
  • Wider health concerns.
Most severe and likely risks - graph

It is important to note that all risks were ranked highly in terms of severity and likelihood. This poses a challenge for cities in prioritizing which risks to address. While it might be tempting to focus resources on mitigating against potential economic risks, as we'll see in later sections, most risks do not exist in a vacuum. Instead, risks comprise a complex network with varying degrees of interconnectedness, velocity, and potential impacts on the entire system.

The interconnections among risks play a critical role in developing effective and efficient mitigation strategies. To find out about which risks have the strongest connections and greatest collective potential impact on cities, read the following article from this series: Most interconnected risks (Risk clusters).