World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2021
- Billions are at risk of missing out on the digital leap forward, as growing disparities challenge the social fabric.
- In the medium-term, the global economy will be threatened by the knock-on effects of the coronavirus crisis, while geopolitical stability will be critically fragile over the next 5 to 10 years.
- Environmental risks continue to threaten: they remain top risks by likelihood and impact in this year’s survey.
London, UK (Jan. 25, 2021) – The World Economic Forum has released its Global Risks Report 2021, the 16th edition of the Forum’s annual analysis, which looks back at a year ravaged by a global pandemic, economic downturn, political turmoil and the ever-worsening climate crisis. The report explores how countries and businesses can act in the face of these risks.
Unsurprisingly, one of the big changes between this year and last, in terms of risks, has been brought about by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The risk posed by infectious diseases is now ranked at number one, while in 2020 it came in 10th place.
“The immediate human and economic costs of COVID-19 are severe,” the report says. “They threaten to scale back years of progress on reducing global poverty and inequality and further damage social cohesion and global cooperation.”
For those reasons, the pandemic demonstrates why infectious diseases hits the top of the impact list. Not only has COVID-19 led to widespread loss of life, it is holding back economic development in some of the poorest parts of the world, while amplifying wealth inequalities across the globe.
At the same time, there are concerns the fight against the pandemic is taking resources away from other critical health challenges – including a disruption to measles vaccination programmes.
But despite the inescapable fallout from COVID-19, it is climate-related matters that make up the bulk of this year’s risk list, which the report describes as “an existential threat to humanity.” Despite a drop in carbon emissions caused by lockdowns and disruption to international trade and travel, there are concerns that as economies start to recover, emissions will soar.
The 2021 risks report draws upon data and insights from a wide array of respondents via the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Perception Survey. The survey was completed by over 650 members of the Forum’s diverse leadership communities.
One of those communities is the Global Shapers – the Forum’s network of young people driving dialogue, action and change. For them, climate-related risks are seen as “the most likely and most impactful long-term risks.” They also sound a note of caution about the dangers of “youth disillusionment” around the world.
“They see personal risks as immediate threats, macro risks in the medium term and fundamental geopolitical risks in the long term,” the report says.
Among the short-term threats, which are likely to come to fruition within the next two years, are infectious diseases, livelihood crises, digital inequality and youth disillusionment.
As for medium-term risks in next three-to-five years, the Global Shapers identified asset bubble bursts, IT infrastructure breakdown, price instability and debt crises.
In the longer term, the community voiced concerns about weapons of mass destruction, state collapse, biodiversity loss and adverse technological advances.
Alongside the risks listed, the report reflects on responses to COVID-19 to draw lessons that could bolster global resilience.
These include formulating analytical frameworks, creating new forms of partnership and building trust through clear and consistent communication.
It also includes recommendations to help countries and businesses act, rather than react, in the face of risks.
The Forum’s upcoming virtual Davos Agenda event will bring together global leaders to discuss how to advance the principles, policies and partnerships needed to do this.
- Learn more about the report: Global Risks Report 2021
- Read the full report: Global Risks Report 2021
- Find out more about the Global Risks Initiative
About the report
The 16th edition of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report analyses the risks from societal fractures—manifested through persistent and emerging risks to human health, rising unemployment, widening digital divides, youth disillusionment, and geopolitical fragmentation. Businesses risk a disorderly shakeout which can exclude large cohorts of workers and companies from the markets of the future. Environmental degradation—still an existential threat to humanity—risks intersecting with societal fractures to bring about severe consequences. Yet, with the world more attuned to risk, lessons can be drawn to strengthen response and resilience. In 2020, the risk of a pandemic became reality. As governments, businesses, and societies grapple with COVID-19, societal cohesion is more important than ever.
In partnership with Marsh McLennan, SK Group and Zurich Insurance Group.
About the World Economic Forum
The World Economic Forum is the international organization for Public-Private Cooperation.
The Forum engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.
It was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It is independent, impartial and not tied to any special interests. The Forum strives in all its efforts to demonstrate entrepreneurship in the global public interest while upholding the highest standards of governance. Moral and intellectual integrity is at the heart of everything it does.
Our activities are shaped by a unique institutional culture founded on the stakeholder theory, which asserts that an organization is accountable to all parts of society. The institution carefully blends and balances the best of many kinds of organizations, from both the public and private sectors, international organizations and academic institutions.
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About Marsh & McLennan Companies
Marsh & McLennan (NYSE: MMC) is the world’s leading professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people. The company’s nearly 65,000 colleagues advise clients in over 130 countries. With annual revenue over $14 billion, Marsh & McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment through four market-leading firms. Marsh advises individual and commercial clients of all sizes on insurance broking and innovative risk management solutions. Guy Carpenter develops advanced risk, reinsurance and capital strategies that help clients grow profitably and pursue emerging opportunities. Mercer delivers advice and technology-driven solutions that help organizations meet the health, wealth and career needs of a changing workforce. Oliver Wyman serves as a critical strategic, economic and brand advisor to private sector and governmental clients. For more information, visit mmc.com.
SOURCE: World Economic ForumTags: climate change, coronavirus, epidemic, Marsh & McLennan, outlook / predictions, report, top risks, trends, World Economic Forum, Zurich