The Global Risks Report 2021
COVID-19 is exacerbating ongoing geopolitical and societal challenges, and the existential crisis of climate change looms large. More innovative and collaborative approaches to resilience are needed more than ever.
The 16th edition of the Global Risks Report, published by the World Economic Forum with support from Marsh McLennan, highlights the disruptive implications of major risks, including the COVID-19 pandemic, that may reshape our world in 2021 and over the next decade.
The report draws on the survey results from nearly 700 experts and decision-makers globally who were asked about their concerns for the next decade, how global risks interact, and where opportunities exist to collectively act to mitigate these threats.
Global Risks 2021: Fractured Future
"The 2021 report reflects the depth and disparity of the pandemic’s impact, explores how critical global challenges have been exacerbated and reshaped, and highlights the need to address these risks in a more collaborative way."
Carolina Klint, Managing Director, Risk Management Leader Continental Europe, Marsh
The emerging risks landscape
The Digital Divide
Biased algorithms, lack of access to information, widening digital skills gaps, and inadequate regulation are exacerbating societal inequalities. If left unaddressed, this will further erode already-fraying societal cohesion. Businesses and governments need to seek new partnerships and approaches to drive digital cohesion without compromising technological advancement.
Youth, already suffering from long-standing intergenerational inequalities, were severely impacted by COVID-19. Impacts to education, migration, and mental health will further harm this generation’s outlook. Avoiding a future of deep societal fracturing requires their voices to be heard and be actively involved in the pandemic recovery process.
Navigating Global Fractures
Deepening rivalries and competition in various domains between superpowers could impede the influence of other G20 nations in international relations and further splinter geopolitics. Such developments could destabilize the global order and slow critical progress on transnational concerns.
A Trilemma of Pressures on Industry
The growing power and influence of nation states, market concentration in the technology sector, and values-driven pressure from consumers, employees, and society at large present complex challenges for industry globally. They need to consider strategy and investments during their COVID-19 recovery to avoid catastrophic outcomes.
2020 Hindsight: Reflecting on Resilience
The COVID-19 crisis has exposed fundamental disconnects between assumptions of global and national pandemic preparedness and the realities of crisis management on the ground. Remarkable examples of determination, cooperation, and innovation have surfaced, particularly with collaboration between the public and private sector, but very few nations have shone across all aspects of their response effort. There are many lessons to be learned to improve our collective management of global risks.
Risk outlook: Failure to act looms large in 2021
A failure to act on climate change dominates the risk landscape in 2021 as the world gets ready for a delayed COP26. Like 2020, environmental risks rank highly in consequence and likelihood, with infectious disease and its ripple effect on employment and livelihood high on the risk landscape. This year respondents also highlighted areas of opportunities to act and mitigate potentially dire consequences.