Economic Growth

Building a resilient tomorrow: Concrete actions for global leaders

Resilience: road bathed in sunlight through forest.

Resilience has become an increasingly critical prerequisite in a world of ever-increasing disruptions. Image: Getty Images / vuk8691

Mirek Dušek
Managing Director, World Economic Forum
Daniel Pacthod
Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company
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This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
  • Recent years have shown how external shocks can disrupt economies, making resilience an imperative to ensure sustainable, inclusive growth.
  • In this new era of ever-increasing disruptions, public and private sector leaders need to better embed resilience strategies in economic models.
  • Some pioneering organizations have embarked on the journey to resilience and serve as a source of inspiration.

Resilience has become an increasingly critical prerequisite for societies and economies to prosper in a world of ever-increasing disruptions. Clearly, the value at risk from inaction highly exceeds the cost of action, with the impact on gross domestic product (GDP) ranging from a decrease of 8% to an increase of 15% by 2030.

Leaders from the public and private sectors have become more cognizant of what it means to be resilient. They are gradually shifting towards a mindset of preparing for the unexpected and proactively building their response capabilities.


How is the World Economic Forum improving trade for more resilient societies?

How to build the resilience muscle

Since its launch in 2022, the Resilience Consortium has worked to promote resilience economies for sustainable and inclusive growth, contextualizing the value at stake, identifying the main resilience themes, and developing frameworks to serve as a kick-starter for public and private sector organizations’ journeys.

This year’s third white paper titled Building a Resilient Tomorrow: Concrete Actions for Global Leaders, showcases nine resilience pioneers that have put resilience into practice across three themes: climate, energy and food; supply chain; and organizational readiness.

  • Resilience pioneers on climate, energy and food are Siemens with its self-sustainable, renewable microgrid technology for isolated communities; the World Food Programme with the Sahel Integrated Resilience Programme to support farmers’ resilience; the US Federal Emergency Management Agency with its Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities programme to mitigate natural disaster risks; and Iberdrola through its ambitious climate action plan.
  • Examples of strengthening supply chain resilience include the Finnish National Emergency Supply Agency with its Resilient Retail Network project to ensure consistent supply of essential groceries during emergencies; UNICEF’s Supply Chain Maturity Model to evaluate and uplift national supply chains; and Farmerline, which supports African farmers through digital tools and data.
  • Inspiration to increase organizational readiness can be found with the United Arab Emirates government developing human capital for the future with a digital training platform for government employees; and with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, working towards a pre-emptive disaster risk-management approach in the Philippines.

3 pillars of action to build resilience

Resilience is becoming non-negotiable. While significant efforts have been undertaken in recent years to strengthen resilience, these have often been conducted in isolation and in response to urgent crises, falling short of a holistic, long-term approach. Now is the time for action: we must move from “talking the talk” to “walking the walk”.

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Public and private sector leaders need to act across three pillars to promote resilience:

  • Build the resilience muscle with new resilience leadership and organizational capabilities. As a matter of fact, only 16% of businesses believe their organization is prepared to anticipate external shocks and disruptions. Therefore, a resilience mindset should include defence and offence strategies to increase flexibility and adaptability to disruptions and changes, highlighting the high-growth market opportunity.
  • Understand, measure and monitor organizations along their entire resilience journey. Organizations need to be assessed against a resilience framework and new methodologies can help to move from a point-in-time and deterministic perspective towards scenario-based thinking.
  • Develop public-private partnerships. Neither private nor public institutions have the standalone capacity to fund the large capital allocation needed to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth. For example, merely $29 billion was mobilized in 2020 for climate adaptation in developing countries, while yearly needs are estimated at $340 billion by 2030.

Resilience can only be built with “trust”, the theme of this year’s World Economic Forum annual meeting. To do so, public and private leaders need to recognize where they stand on their journey, share experiences, learn from best practice, and build partnerships to develop joint solutions.

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