Founder and Executive Chairman
World Economic Forum
The year 2016 has seen profound shifts in the way we view global risks. Societal polarization, income inequality and the inward orientation of countries are spilling over into real-world politics. Through recent electoral results in G7 countries, these trends are set to have a lasting impact on the way economies act and relate to each other. They are also likely to affect global risks and the interconnections between them.
Against the background of these developments, this year’s Global Risks Report explores five gravity centres that will shape global risks. First, continued slow growth combined with high debt and demographic change creates an environment that favours financial crises and growing inequality. At the same time, pervasive corruption, short-termism and unequal distribution of the benefits of growth suggest that the capitalist economic model may not be delivering for people. The transition towards a more multipolar world order is putting global cooperation under strain. At the same time, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is fundamentally transforming societies, economies, and ways of doing business. Last but not least, as people seek to reassert identities that have been blurred by globalization, decision-making is increasingly influenced by emotions.
In addition to these gravity centres, this year’s Global Risks Report presents deep-dive discussions of risks posed by ongoing political and societal transformations, including challenges to democracy, closing space for civil society, and outmoded social protection systems. It also discusses risks related to emerging technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the associated governance challenges. As in previous years, the analysis contained in this Report builds on the annual Global Risks Perception Survey, completed by almost 750 members of the World Economic Forum’s global multistakeholder community.
The year 2017 will present a pivotal moment for the global community. The threat of a less cooperative, more inward-looking world also creates the opportunity to address global risks and the trends that drive them. This will require responsive and responsible leadership with a deeper commitment to inclusive development and equitable growth, both nationally and globally. It will also require collaboration across multiple interconnected systems, countries, areas of expertise, and stakeholder groups with the aim of having a greater societal impact. We hope that The Global Risks Report 2017 and the subsequent deliberations at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2017 will contribute to a debate about pragmatic solutions.