Skip to main content

The Global Risks Report 2020

Smoke and steam rising into the air from power plant stacks; dark clouds background; concept for environmental pollution and climate change

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

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.

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.

Continued vigilance is critical

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