The eighth edition of the Global Risks report has sought to highlight the theme of resilience in the context of systems thinking. Exogenous in nature, global risks cannot be adequately managed or mitigated by any single organization. We have introduced the conceptual framework of Professors Kaplan and Mikes,1 contrasting “external” risks such as global risks with “preventable” and “strategic” risks, to assist clarity of thought about how global risks should be approached. Whenever it is difficult to predict how and when a risk will manifest, nurturing resilience is the preferred approach.
Throughout this report we have sought to frame risks in a systems context given its nature of interdependencies and to assist clarity of thinking about the best ways to build resilience. Our three risk cases have discussed what happens when two major systems are stressed simultaneously (Testing Economic and Environmental Resilience); when a seemingly more minor system punches above its weight (Digital Wildfires in a Hyperconnected World); and when we become complacent in the continued ability of a system to stay one step ahead of a changing problem (The Dangers of Hubris on Human Health). In the Special Report, we explored the thinking of systems theorists about how to build resilient systems, describing how five components – redundancy, robustness, resourcefulness, response and recovery – can be applied to selected national subsystems.
As ever, this report forms the starting point of dialogue, which will continue throughout the year through a number of channels: our dedicated virtual platform for members of the Risk Response Network’s trusted community; the Resilience Practices Exchange; workshops with our report partners and their stakeholders; regional events around the world; and, of course, our Annual Meetings in the People’s Republic of China and in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, where the theme for 2013 is resilient dynamism.
Specifically, in 2013 we will take forward the task of building a trusted network of risk experts to help global leaders map, mitigate, monitor and enhance resilience to global risks. And we will work to develop and refine the National Resilience Rating proposed in the Special Report. The hyperconnected nature of the modern world makes it increasingly urgent to understand how best to build resilience in the face of global risks.
More information on these initiatives and other World Economic Forum activities on global risks can be found at www.weforum.org/risk. You can contact us at [email protected] and stay connected by following us at @WEFRisk.