Resilience is the theme that runs through the eighth edition of this report. It seems an obvious one when contemplating the external nature of global risks because they are beyond any organization’s or nation’s capacity to manage or mitigate on its own. And yet global risks are often diminished, or even ignored, in current enterprise risk management. One reason for this is that global risks do not fit neatly into existing conceptual frameworks. Fortunately, this is changing. The Harvard Business Review recently published a concise and practical taxonomy that may also be used to consider global risks.1 There are three types of risks as categorized by Professors Kaplan and Mikes.
First are “preventable” risks, such as breakdowns in processes and mistakes by employees. Second are “strategic” risks, which a company undertakes voluntarily, having weighed them against the potential rewards. Third are “external” risks, which this report calls “global risks”; they are complex and go beyond a company’s scope to manage and mitigate (i.e. they are exogenous in nature). This differentiation will, we hope, not only improve strategic planning and decision-making but also increase the utility of our report in private and public sector institutions.
The concept of resilience also influenced this year’s Global Risks Perception Survey, on which this report is built. The annual survey of experts worldwide added a new question asking respondents to rate their country’s resilience – or, precisely, its ability to adapt and recover – in the face of each of the 50 risks covered in the survey. More than 1,000 experts responded to our survey, making the dataset explored in this report more textured and robust than ever.
Per the revamped methodology introduced in 2012, the 2013 report presents three in-depth “risk cases” exploring themes based on analysis of survey data, as well as detailed follow-up expert interviews and partner workshops. This eighth edition increased its geographic breadth and disciplinary depth by bringing on two new report partners from academia: the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford. We also entered into an exciting editorial partnership with Nature, a leading scientific journal, to push the boundaries of the imagination further with a revamped “X Factors” section of the report.
We have introduced unique content and data online, including an interactive website through which you can explore the risks landscape and a one-year-on follow-up of the three risk cases presented in the 2012 report from a perspective of how to promote resilience.
Our Special Report this year takes the first steps towards developing a national resilience measurement with regard to global risks. It explores the use of qualitative and quantitative indicators to assess overall national resilience to global risks by looking at five national-level subsystems (economic, environmental, governance, infrastructure and social) through the lens of five components: robustness, redundancy, resourcefulness, response and recovery. The aim is to develop a new diagnostic report to enable decision-makers to track progress in building national resilience and possibly identify where further investments are needed. The interim study will be published this summer.
Linked to this research effort is the launch of an online “Resilience Practices Exchange”, where leaders can learn and contribute to building resilience using the latest social enterprise technology. These new efforts will enable the World Economic Forum’s Risk Response Network (RRN) to become the foremost international platform to enable leaders to map, mitigate, monitor and enhance resilience to global risks. Therefore, I invite you to get in touch with the RRN and share your ideas and initiatives to assess and to improve national resilience to global risks.
Lee HowellManaging Director, Member of the Managing Board, World Economic Forum
Risk Response Network