Part 3: Risks in Focus
The previous sections of this Report have explored the ways in which global risks are becoming more imminent, impacting more people’s lives, economies and institutions. This part of the Report explores the Global Risks Landscape 2016 and the Global Risks Interconnections Map 2016 through a societal lens. Because well-functioning societies are at the core of international security and are key to strengthening resilience, this section presents an in-depth exploration of three distinct angles that relate to societies: the three Risks in Focus. To motivate action, each of the Risks in Focus includes examples of practical initiatives that can be implemented to build resilience.
One of the key risks related to the advancing digitization of societies concerns the tension between the ways in which technology is empowering citizens and the growing sense of political disempowerment felt by many of those citizens. Rising income disparity and a shortage of quality employment opportunities – that could be further exacerbated by the Fourth Industrial Revolution – along with extreme weather events and heightened migration flows are among the factors that could leave societies deeply unsettled.
Against this background, the first Risk in Focus introduces the concept of the “(dis)empowered citizen” and discusses potential consequences for social stability. The second contribution explores food security – a necessary condition for social stability – which is increasingly under threat from failure to mitigate and adapt to climate change; this Risk in Focus builds on the findings of Part 1. Finally, the third Risk in Focus discusses the potential of future pandemics to threaten social cohesion.
The world has navigated previous eras of profound transitions resulting from converging economic, technological and geopolitical developments. But with a faster pace of change and more complex interconnections, the stakes have never been higher.