Global Risks for the Coming Decade

The World Economic Forum (the Davos crowd) has a big new report out on global risks facing the world in the coming decade, and it makes grim reading. (Highlights in the video above.)

First off, there are lots of global risks–37, by WEF’s count. Second, the world is “in no position to face major, new shocks.” That’s thanks to the financial crisis, which badly sapped economic resilience; “increasing geopolitical tensions and heightened social concerns;” and the fact that problems can spread and multiply rapidly in an ever more tightly connected world.

Two risks come in for special attention on account of their “high degrees of impact and interconnectedness” and their ability to “influence the evolution of many other global risks and inhibit our capacity to respond effectively to them.” They are:

1. Economic Disparities

Economic disparities threaten social and political stability as well as economic development, notes the report, and is strongly linked to a host of other problems, including corruption, demographic challenges, fragile states, chronic diseases, illicit trade, migration, food (in)security, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Within countries, disparities are also seen as a factor in social fragmentation.

2. Global Governance Failures

Risks are increasingly globalized and interconnected, but global governance capacities remain highly fragmented. Global governance failures create and exacerbate systemic global risks. Among those failures the report counts: UN climate change negotiations; the uncompleted Doha Development Round of trade negotiations; lack of progress on some of the Millennium Development Goals; the stalling of United Nations’ Security Council reform; and challenges to frameworks designed to prevent the proliferation of the capability of nuclear weapons. “There is a growing sense of paralysis in responding to global challenges,” the report says.

Beyond the big two, the report zeroes in on three important clusters of risks:

Macroeconomic imbalances: includes currency volatility, fiscal crises and asset price collapse arise from the tension between the increasing wealth and influence of emerging economies and high levels of debt in advanced economies.

Illegal economy: includes state fragility, illicit trade, organized crime and corruption. A networked world, governance failures and economic disparity create opportunities for such illegal activities to flourish.

Water-food-energy: A rapidly rising global population and growing prosperity are putting unsustainable pressures on resources. Demand for water, food and energy is expected to rise by 30-50% in the next two decades, and “shortages could cause social and political instability, geopolitical conflict and irreparable environmental damage.”

Read the full report here.

This article originally appeared on The Progressive Book Club.

Photo credit: Screenshot from World Economic Forum video.


John B.
John B7 years ago

I see the Merchants of Chaos are still at it.

This planet is in for a heap of trouble as long as it is left to corporations to lead the way to the future. The corporations are there to win the future unfortunately we all lose.

The economic platform that the world runs upon has gone so amok that people do not see that money is only a means to exchange products and services conveniently and is not something that one has to accumulate. This accumulation takes money out of circulation and therefore there is a need to create more. Unfortunately those new bills that are being made are not worth quite as much as they depend solely upon the printing press being kept going. What fuels the printing press? Debt!
For the last decade it has been decided in the US that they have an unending supply of fuel to run these presses. Unfortunately they are not bright enough to get the money into the hands of the people so it can be circulated and it lands in the hands of those who have been accumulating it.

Rose N.
Past Member 7 years ago

Thank you for posting.

heather g.
heather g7 years ago

Strange news from DAVOS. When they decide "Within countries, disparities are also seen as a factor in social fragmentation." Yet Govts back these disparities causing the diminishment of the middle class, more people suffering in poverty, and far more millionaires - they are in charge of the tax system! Also "putting unsustainable pressures on resources" Isn't this our Govts at fault again? Both USA and it's poodle, Harper, will be voting to end the Kyoto Accord because they haven't met their goals and don't care either - our environment is at the bottom of their agenda.
## Community action is vitally important to drive change!

heather g.
heather g7 years ago

DAVOS is this a threat? "A networked world, governance failures and economic disparity create opportunities for such illegal activities to flourish." Who's responsible for a shrinking middle class, more poverty and a bloated millionaire class? I know USA and their little poodle, Harper, are voting to end the Kyoto Accord, 'cos they're not prepared to develop policies that work to eliminate climate change. They are saying their children and grandchildren can suffer with a burnt-out world and they have no regrets about that. Local communities are powerful when it comes to positive change. It's the only way to keep urging governments to address urgent matters that affect our world.

Dean P.
Dean P7 years ago

The world is what we make it!

Ernest R.
Ernest R7 years ago

@ William F, The lesson has almost been learned .It is “ we have wars”.@ John B,. Has it escaped your attention that a decent living standard for the billions, and counting, of people on the planet would destroy all resources, including clean air, water, and food and any hope of human survival in a very few years ? ?@ Joshua L. No, parasitical humans will become extinct forever because they have negative value in an evolving planet.@ Devon N. Remember the word ‘sustainability’ ? .It means being able to continue. It has been ignored and rejected by not only the rich, the Catholics and the Muslims, but, except for vanishing ‘primitive’ cultures, by populations in general. Everyone can be polite and gentlemanly until there is only one sandwich left on the table. That time is now.

James L.

Overpopulation. We Americans are 310 million and we consume 40% of annually available resources. 310 is to 40 as X is to 100. "X" is the number of millions that can live at our standard of living: Fewer than one tenth as many as already live on Earth.... Good luck!

Jillian E.
Jillian Edwards7 years ago

Audrey H hit the nail on the head.

Jillian E.
Jillian Edwards7 years ago

Like Lemmings, Rats and Locusts, multiply until the food runs out then die. Homo Sapiens your time is nye.
Everything else is just skirting the problem.

ruth a.
ruth a7 years ago

I feel like we are doomed...