The World Economic Forum presents the latest Global Risks Report at a transformational time for the world. Encouraging signs suggest that we have put the worst financial crisis of the post–World War II period behind us. Globally, people are enjoying the highest standards of living in human history. And yet acceleration and interconnectedness in every field of human activity are pushing the absorptive capacities of institutions, communities and individuals to their limits. This is putting future human development at risk. In addition to dealing with a multitude of discrete local problems, at a global level humanity faces a growing number of systemic challenges, including fractures and failures affecting the environmental, economic, technological and institutional systems on which our future rests.
This generation enjoys unprecedented technological, scientific and financial resources, which we should use to chart a course towards a more sustainable, equitable and inclusive future. And yet this is perhaps the first generation to take the world to the brink of a systems breakdown. There are many signs of progress and many reasons for hope—but we still lack the momentum and the necessary depth of collaboration to deliver change on the scale required. By providing a global platform for public-private collaboration, the World Economic Forum seeks to advance this goal by working with governments, businesses and civil society organizations to find new ways of tackling the systemic risks that affect us all.
We have to work together—that is the key to preventing crises and making the world more resilient for current and future generations. Humanity cannot successfully deal with the multiplicity of challenges we face either sequentially or in isolation. Just as global risks are increasingly complex, systemic and cascading, so our responses must be increasingly interconnected across the numerous global systems that make up our world. Multistakeholder dialogue remains the keystone of the strategies that will enable us to build a better world.
Our hope is that this edition of the Global Risks Report and the debates it fosters at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2018 will focus minds on the need for systems thinking and new ways of collaborating globally and involving all stakeholders. This year’s report grapples with some of the most pressing challenges that we face, including biodiversity loss, cybersecurity threats, rising geopolitical tensions, and the risk of another financial crisis erupting. A new “Future Shocks” section highlights the importance of being prepared not just for familiar slow-burn risks, but for dramatic disruptions that can cause rapid and irreversible deterioration in the systems we rely on.
The Global Risks Report occupies a unique position in the World Economic Forum, at the heart of our deepening partnerships with the world’s governments and international organizations. It operates across the network of thematic, industry and regional teams that shape our systems-based approach to the challenges facing the world. This allows it to leverage the full extent of the Forum’s internal expertise as well its global expert networks in order to analyse the evolution of global risks. As in previous years, this year’s report also draws on our annual Global Risks Perceptions Survey, which is completed by around 1,000 members of our multistakeholder communities.
As one of our flagship reports, the Global Risks Report is a collaborative effort and we would like to thank all those across the Forum and its communities who have contributed to this year’s edition. We are particularly grateful for the energy and commitment of the report’s Advisory Board. We would also like to thank our long-standing strategic partners, Marsh & McLennan Companies and Zurich Insurance Group, as well as our academic advisers at the National University of Singapore, Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford and the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
Founder and Executive Chairman
World Economic Forum
World Economic Forum