World Economic Forum identifies top global risks

For each of the last ten years the World Economic Forum has compiled and published the results of a survey of global experts identifying the key risks facing the world. This year’s report was published last week and notes that “2015 differs markedly from the past, with rising technological risks, notably cyber attacks, and new economic realities, which remind us that geopolitical tensions present themselves in a very different world from before. Information flows instantly around the globe and emerging technologies have boosted the influence of new players and new types of warfare. At the same time, past warnings of potential environmental catastrophes have begun to be borne out, yet insufficient progress has been made – as reflected in the high concerns about failure of climate-change adaptation and looming water crises in this year’s report.” GallonDaily notes that environment and sustainability risks have assumed a much higher risk profile in the 2015 report than in previous years.

The report identifies the top ten global risks in terms of likelihood and in terms of impact. The two overarching lists are:

In terms of likelihood:

  1. interstate conflict
  2. extreme weather events
  3. failure of national governance
  4. state collapse or crisis
  5. unemployment or underemployment
  6. natural catastrophes
  7. failure of climate change adaptation
  8. water crises
  9. data fraud or theft
  10. cyber attacks

In terms of impact the top ten global risks are identified as:

  1. water crises
  2. spread of infectious diseases
  3. weapons of mass destruction
  4. interstate conflict
  5. failure of climate change adaptation
  6. energy price shock
  7. critical information infrastructure breakdown
  8. fiscal crises
  9. unemployment or underemployment
  10. biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse

Much more analysis, including identification of connections and cross-cutting challenges and in-depth review of these and many more challenges is available in the 60 page report and tables available at and

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