What will be the biggest risk in the coming decade?

What will be the biggest risk in the coming decade?

What will be the biggest risk in the coming decade? It may be a sign of the times, as the latest edition of the Global Risks' report has cited a risk that will be even greater than extreme weather events in the next 10 years.

The biggest threat to the stability of the world in the coming decade will be the risk of international conflict, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks report.

“Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the world again faces the risk of major conflict between states,” said Margareta Drzeniek-Hanouz, Lead Economist, World Economic Forum. “However, today the means to wage such conflict, whether through cyberattack, competition for resources or sanctions and other economic tools, is broader than ever.”

The report, which every year features an assessment by experts on the top global risks in terms of likelihood and potential impact over the coming 10 years, finds interstate conflict with regional consequences as the number one global risk in terms of likelihood, and the fourth most serious risk in terms of impact.

In terms of likelihood, as a risk it exceeds extreme weather events (2), failure of national governance systems (3), state collapse or crisis (4) and high structural unemployment or underemployment (5).

“Addressing all these possible triggers and seeking to return the world to a path of partnership, rather than competition, should be a priority for leaders as we enter 2015,” said Drzeniek-Hanouz.

In looking at global risks in terms of their potential impact, the nearly 900 experts that took part in the Global Risk Perception Survey rated water crises as the greatest risk facing the world. Other top risks alongside that and interstate conflict in terms of impact are: rapid and massive spread of infectious diseases (2), weapons of mass destruction (3) and failure of climate change adaptation (5).

With the 28 global risks that were assessed in 2015 grouped into five categories – economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal and technological – 2015 stands out as a year when geopolitical risks, having been largely absent from the landscape of leading risks for the past half-decade, returns to the fore. With geopolitics increasingly influencing the global economy, these risks account for three of the five most likely, and two of the most potentially impactful, risks in 2015. (continued.)

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