THE global risk landscape today is highly complex and will be increasingly so in the future, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean yesterday.
Instead of a single dominant risk, the world could face a series of interconnected risks which could then become a major event, he said.
Mr Teo gave his thoughts on the changing nature of the risks to national security at the sixth Asia-Pacific Programme for Senior National Security Officers, held at Sentosa Resort and Spa.
Started in 2007, the programme brings together government officials from the Asia-Pacific to exchange perspectives on the latest developments impacting national security.
To illustrate how the failure of one part of an interconnected system could threaten to bring an entire system down, Mr Teo used the recent example of how the euro zone crisis was precipitated by the Greek debt crisis.
In his speech, Mr Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security and Home Affairs Minister, did not speak directly on the threat of terrorism, but instead highlighted issues such as cybercrime, demographic and climate change, all of which he said would become increasingly important as 'risk multipliers'.
Quoting statistics from the World Economic Forum's Global Risks 2012 Report to show how interconnected the world is today, the minister said that the 'networked and complex' nature of the Internet means cyber attacks on the home front can happen even when its perpetrators are located overseas.
About 470 million smartphones had been sold worldwide by the end of last year, and the figure is expected to double by 2015, he said.
Then there is demographic change: A growing global population means an increased demand for clean water and food - something that could tip the balance in maintaining global stability.
'Food security - not just the production, but also the transportation, distribution and willingness to supply or withhold food exports - will continue to be a challenge,' Mr Teo said.
Of ways to meet these challenges, Mr Teo suggested three: A multi-disciplinary approach, an adaptive approach, and international collaboration.
The minister stressed the need for nations to 'constantly review and renew' their security strategies and responses.
'The risks confronting us are dynamic, and new developments can easily render our solutions obsolete,' he said.
Mr Teo also spoke of the new Interpol Global Complex for Innovation, which will open here in 2014. He said the facility would enable enforcement officers from around the world to work more closely together when fighting new types of crime.
Mrs Evelyn Wu, a programme participant and senior deputy director of the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority training school, agreed that more cooperation between nations is needed.
'We definitely need to work together to learn, unlearn, and re-learn some of these issues,' she said.
Another participant, Mr Bernard Miranda, director of the National Maritime Operations Group, said the focus of national security has 'always been and remains on terrorism'.
He added: 'Mr Teo has brought to the fore issues that we may not have paid enough attention to, which shows how our risk landscape has changed.'
-- Straits Times