The first global pandemic in over 100 years, COVID-19 has triggered an economic crisis with dire societal impact on the lives and livelihoods of most of the world’s population. Governments, businesses and households have had to balance health imperatives against the economic fallout and rising societal anxieties, relying on digital infrastructure in unprecedented ways. As countries seek to recover, some of the more lasting economic, environmental, societal and technological challenges are only becoming visible. Anticipating the emerging risks from the pandemic is vital.
The COVID-19 Risks Outlook provides a picture of which familiar risks may be amplified by the crisis and which new ones may emerge. Based on the consequences and second-order effects of the pandemic, this report also presents a series of guiding questions for decision-makers to ensure that the recovery efforts lead towards a more socially just and sustainable global economy. It is a preliminary outlook and initial mapping that will be supplemented by further work from the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Initiative and its partners Marsh & McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group.
The COVID-19 crisis has affected societies and economies around the globe and will permanently reshape our world as it continues to unfold. While the fallout from the crisis is both amplifying familiar risks and creating new ones, change at this scale also creates new openings for managing systemic challenges, and ways to build back better.
This collection of essays draws on the diverse insights of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report Advisory Board to look ahead and across a broad range of issues – trade, governance, health, labour, technology to name a few – and consider where the balance of risk and opportunity may come out. It offers decision-makers a comprehensive picture of expected long-term changes, and inspiration to leverage the opportunities this crisis offers to improve the state of the world.
The 15th edition of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report is published as critical risks are manifesting. The global economy is facing an increased risk of stagnation, climate change is striking harder and more rapidly than expected, and fragmented cyberspace threatens the full potential of next-generation technologies — all while citizens worldwide protest political and economic conditions and voice concerns about systems that exacerbate inequality. The challenges before us demand immediate collective action, but fractures within the global community appear to only be widening. Stakeholders need to act quickly and with purpose within an unsettled global landscape.