Global Risks 2013 report identifies top risks
The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks 2013 report has identified five risks cases that fall in both impact and likelihood. The risk cases are testing economic and environmental resilience, the dangers of hubris on human health, digital wildfires in a hyper-connected world chronic, fiscal imbalances and water supply crisis.
The global risk that respondents rated most likely to manifest over the next 10 years is severe income disparity, while the risk rated as having the highest impact if it were to manifest is major systemic financial failure. There are also two risks appearing in the top five of both impact and likelihood – chronic fiscal imbalances and water supply crisis.
Unforeseen consequences of life science technologies was the biggest mover among global risks when assessing likelihood, while unforeseen negative consequences of regulation moved the most on the impact scale when comparing the result with 2011.
Water scarcity especially in Africa is considered to be an epidemic. Lack of access to water is a larger problem in Africa than anywhere else. Of the 25 nations in the world with the greatest percentage of people lacking access to safe drinking water, 19 are in Africa.
The report introduces three risk cases, based on an analysis of survey results, consultation with experts and further research, namely: the risk cases are testing economic and environmental resilience, the dangers of hubris on human health and digital wildfires in a hyper-connected world chronic
Testing economic and environmental resilience: Continued stress on the global economic system is positioned to absorb the attention of leaders for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, the Earth’s environmental system is simultaneously coming under increasing stress. Future simultaneous shocks to both systems could trigger the “perfect global storm”, with potentially insurmountable consequences.
Digital Wildfires in a Hyper-connected World: Social media allows information to spread around the world at breakneck speed in an open system where norms and rules are starting to emerge but have not yet been defined. While the benefits of our hyper-connected communication systems are undisputed, they could potentially enable the viral spread of information that is either intentionally or unintentionally misleading or provocative.
The Dangers of Hubris on Human Health: Health is a critical system that is constantly being challenged, be it by emerging pandemics or chronic illnesses. Scientific discoveries and emerging technologies allow us to face such challenges, but the medical successes of the past century may also be creating a false sense of security.
A Special Report included in the main report examines the difficult issue of how a country should prepare for a global risk that is seemingly beyond its control or influence. One possible approach rests with “systems thinking” and applying the concept of resilience to countries.