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Research and Briefings

The Global Risks Report 2020

 


The Global Risks Report, published by the World Economic Forum with support from Marsh & McLennan, provides a rich perspective on the major threats that may impact global prosperity in 2020 and over the next decade. The 15th edition of the report draws on feedback from nearly 800 global experts and decision-makers who were asked to rank their concerns in terms of likelihood and impact.

"This year's report highlights important threads across the global risk landscape. Intensifying confrontations, both between and within countries, as well as a heightened sense of urgency and emergency around some critical global problems."
John Drzik, Chairman, Marsh & McLennan Insights

The emerging risks landscape

Geopolitical Instability

National politics in many countries has evidenced intense divisiveness and ‘pushbacks’, coupled with increasingly fractious international relations. These volatilities will likely persist, challenging cooperation on key priorities.

Economic Concerns

As economic confrontations between major powers grow, the global economy shows greater signs of a concerted slowdown.

Climate Response Shortcomings

Weak international agreements belie rising investor and popular pressure for action, against a backdrop of a multitude of natural catastrophes and indicators of longer-term disruptions. 2020 is a critical year for nations to accelerate progress towards major emissions reductions and boosting adaption investments.

Biodiversity Loss Impacts

Many ecosystems are in decline or at risk of distinction. Biodiversity loss poses irreversible consequences to societies, economies, and the health of the planet.

Technological Governance Deficits

Emerging technology risks can erode social discourse, threaten economic stability, exacerbate geostrategic competition, and pressure national and international security. Getting a better handle on systemic risks will require a significant technology governance refresh at all levels.

Creaking Health Systems

Changing societal, environmental, demographic, and technological trends are straining health systems globally. While transformative technology, medicines, and insurance can improve healthcare, they also introduce new risks and trade-offs.

Risk outlook: the world in 2020

The Global Risks Report forecasts a year of increased domestic and international divisions with the added risk of economic slowdown. 78% of survey respondents said they expect "economic confrontations" and "domestic political polarization" to rise in 2020. Global experts also see the risk of extreme heatwaves and destruction of natural ecosystems increasing, as well as a rise in cyber-attacks targeting operations and infrastructure and data/money theft.

Top Risks Expected to Increase in 2020


Respondents to Global Risks Perception Survey (%)

 ECONOMIC CONFRONTATION/FRICTIONS BETWEEN MAJOR POWERS

78.5%

 DOMESTIC POLITICAL POLARISATION

78.4%

 EXTREME HEAT WAVES

77.1%

 DESTRUCTION OF NATURAL ECOSYSTEMS

76.2%

 CYBER ATTACKS: DISRUPTION OF OPERATIONS AND INFRASTRUCTURE

76.1%

 PROTECTIONISM REGARDING TRADE AND INVESTMENT

76.0%

 POPULIST AND NATIVIST AGENDAS

75.7%

 CYBER ATTACKS: THEFT OF DATA OR MONEY

75.0%

 RECESSION IN A MAJOR ECONOMY

72.8%

 UNCONTROLLED FIRES

70.7%

Risk outlook: a sharper focus on environmental threats over the next 10 years

Concerns about environmental risks have been rising over the last decade. For the first time in the history of the survey's 10-year outlook, environmental threats dominate the top five long term risks by likelihood and occupy three of the top five spots by impact.

The Global Risks Landscape 2020

Top 10 risks: the scale is 1 for unlikely to 10 for extremely likely. Items are presented in descending order of risk. Extreme weather has a risk of 10 out of 10 and an impact of 7 out of 10. Climate action failure has a risk of 9 out of 10 and an impact of 10 out of 10. Natural disasters has a risk of 8 out of 10 and an impact of 4 out of 10. Biodiversity loss has a risk of 7 out of 10 and an impact of 8 out of 10. Human-made environmental disasters has a risk of 6 out of 10 and an impact of 2 out of 10. Data fraud or data theft has a risk of 5 out of 10 and an impact that is not given. Cyber attacks has a risk of 4 out of 10 and an impact of 3 out of 10. Water Crises has a risk of 3 out of 10 and an impact of 6 out of 10. Global governance failure has a risk of 2 out of 10 and an impact that is not given. Asset bubbles has a risk of 1 out of 10 and an impact that is not given. Weapons of mass destruction has a risk that is not given and an impact of 9 out of 10. Information infrastructure breakdown has a risk that is not given and an impact of 5 out of 10. Infectious diseases has a risk that is not given and an impact of 1 out of 10. This information is given again in the following image, as both images combine to give this information.
Top 10 risks: the scale is 1 for unlikely to 10 for extremely likely. Items are presented in descending order of risk. Extreme weather has a risk of 10 out of 10 and an impact of 7 out of 10. Climate action failure has a risk of 9 out of 10 and an impact of 10 out of 10. Natural disasters has a risk of 8 out of 10 and an impact of 4 out of 10. Biodiversity loss has a risk of 7 out of 10 and an impact of 8 out of 10. Human-made environmental disasters has a risk of 6 out of 10 and an impact of 2 out of 10. Data fraud or data theft has a risk of 5 out of 10 and an impact that is not given. Cyber attacks has a risk of 4 out of 10 and an impact of 3 out of 10. Water Crises has a risk of 3 out of 10 and an impact of 6 out of 10. Global governance failure has a risk of 2 out of 10 and an impact that is not given. Asset bubbles has a risk of 1 out of 10 and an impact that is not given. Weapons of mass destruction has a risk that is not given and an impact of 9 out of 10. Information infrastructure breakdown has a risk that is not given and an impact of 5 out of 10. Infectious diseases has a risk that is not given and an impact of 1 out of 10. This information has also been given in the previous image, as both images combine to give this information.
Note: Survey respondents were asked to assess the likelihood of the individual global risk on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 representing a risk that is very unlikely to happen and 5 a risk that is very likelyto occur.They also assessed the impact of each global risk on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 representing a minimal impact and 5 a ctatstrophic impact. To ensure legibility, the names of the global risks are abbreviated; see Appendix A in the full report for full name and description.

 

Continued vigilance is critical

Learn how your organisation can use the Global Risks Report as a reference point to identify critical risk issues.

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