Forty years ago, the inaugural Meeting of what would later become the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting was held in Davos. At this historic milestone in the life of the organization comes the fifth edition of the Forum's Global Risks Report, Global Risks 2010. Throughout its previous editions, this report has outlined some of the top issues most likely to come to the fore of the global risks landscape and stressed the need for a multistakeholder approach to address them. Global risks do not manifest themselves in isolation, neither geographically nor in time. This fundamental premise of the Forum's work on risks has become particularly pertinent since the onset of the financial crisis. As Global Risks 2010 highlights, we are in a world with unprecedented levels of interconnectedness between all areas of risk.
At this critical juncture, the need to redress imbalances, change incentives and improve global understanding and cooperation remains the top priority if future challenges are to be met with the right solutions and sufficient levels of preparedness. Global governance gaps already featured prominently in Global Risks 2009 and 2010 will be no different; they are part of a series of issues highlighted in this report, which due to their endemic and systemic nature can only be addressed by a fundamental overhaul of current values and behaviours. The effects of these risks will not only be felt over the coming year but will also influence decision-making well into the new decade. Inherent to these problems is the fact that they concern stakeholders from all spheres and regions across the world - the multistakeholder aspect of global risks, which renders it more difficult to manage them.
Through its analysis of the interconnectedness between risks, Global Risks 2010 again emphasizes the need for more effective global governance structures to unlock the resolution of many of the issues highlighted in this report. However, to succeed, these structures will need to be supported by leaders willing to reconcile often diverging agenda and able to address the long-term structural issues at hand as well as the immediate problems. They will also need to consider the direct and indirect social implications of their policies. Legitimacy, accountability, clarity, concerted action: these are the keywords of efficient global risk management and effective global governance. The World Economic Forum has long promoted thinking about how these goals can be achieved, through reports such as this, and its activities and initiatives.
This fifth edition, Global Risks 2010, has been made possible through the valuable insights of experts from the Forum's Global Risk Network and Global Agenda Councils, together with the continued support of our partners: Citi, Marsh & McLennan Companies (MMC), Swiss Re, The Wharton School Risk Center and Zurich Financial Services. By consulting this group of experts and academics across the world throughout the year and relaying their findings in this annual report, Global Risks 2010 seeks to provide political and business leaders with a framework for further discussion of a risk landscape that is ever more complex and urges a consideration of the longer term, global implications of risks in areas beyond their immediate focus. These risks must be addressed collectively so opportunities can be found in their complexity.
Founder and Executive Chairman
World Economic Forum