Summary of Global Risks Report 2016

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Which global threats keep you awake at night? And how can you be sure they’ll be the ones that will affect your life and your business? Every year, the World Economic Forum investigates the potential crises that could cause the greatest damage to economies and industries. By considering not just the impact of these threats but also their likelihood, the authors of this year’s study wisely downplay risks that remain theoretically possible but that are unlikely to disturb your sleep. Thus, you won’t find ratings for an extraterrestrial invasion, a killer-robot revolution, a zombie apocalypse or a Kardashian presidency. But the WEF does rank all the threats that are both worrisome and realistic – including climate change, cyberattacks, water shortages and the migration of millions of refugees. The result is not just fodder for nightmares but also an urgent wake-up call. Unfortunately, the report provides few new ideas for preventing or confronting many of the risks; its best advice is for governments and businesses to develop “resilience.” In fact, the report deploys this buzzword so frequently (81 times) that it may test the resilience of some readers. The report also reveals a telling difference between the dangers that experts highlight (notably those related to climate change) and the risks that executives and public officials worry about most. getAbstract recommends this compelling overview to executives, policy makers, risk managers, analysts and futurists.

About the Author

The World Economic Forum is an independent global organization that engages leaders of business, politics, academia and society to improve the state of the world.



Ranking the Greatest Threats

Today’s economies confront a multitude of threats – all of which bear a varying degree of probability and potential damage. The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently surveyed nearly 750 of its members to identify the global risks that are most likely to erupt into full-blown crises between now and 2025, as well as to assess the potential impact of each one.

The Top Five High-Impact Threats

The survey asked respondents to consider 29 risks and to rank them according to the magnitude of their potential impact. The five greatest threats they identified are:

  1. “Failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation” – If public- and private-sector leaders don’t do enough to minimize or prepare for the effects of rising temperatures, people and businesses around the world will face catastrophic consequences.
  2. “Weapons of mass destruction” – The possibility that nations or terrorists could deploy nuclear, biological or chemical weapons presents a threat to geopolitical stability and to human life.
  3. “Water crises” – The decrease in the world...

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