A divergent economic recovery from the crisis created by the pandemic risks deepening global divisions at a time when societies and the international community urgently need to collaborate to check COVID-19, heal its scars and address compounding global risks.
In some societies, rapid progress on vaccination leaps forward on digitalization and a return to pre-pandemic growth rates herald better prospects for 2022 and beyond. Others could be weighed down for years by struggles to apply even initial vaccine doses, combat digital divides, and find new sources of economic growth. Widening disparities within and between countries will not only make it more difficult to control COVID-19 and its variants but will also risk stalling, if not reversing, joint action against shared threats that the world cannot afford to overlook.
Last year’s edition of the Global Risks Report warned of potential knock-on economic risks that are now clear and present dangers. Supply chain disruptions, inflation, debt, labour market gaps, protectionism and educational disparities are moving the world economy into choppy waters that both rapidly and slowly recovering countries alike will need to navigate to restore social cohesion, boost employment and thrive. These difficulties are impeding the visibility of emerging challenges, which include climate transition disorder, increased cyber vulnerabilities, greater barriers to international mobility, and crowding and competition in space.
Restoring trust and fostering cooperation within and between countries will be crucial to addressing these challenges and preventing the world from drifting further apart.
The 17th edition of the Global Risks Report identifies tensions that will result from diverging trajectories and approaches within and between countries and then examines the risks that could arise from such tensions. This year’s report also highlights the implications of these risks for individuals, governments and businesses.
The Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS), which has underpinned the report since 2006, was refreshed this year to gather new and broader insights from nearly 1,000 global experts and leaders who responded. The 2021-2022 GRPS includes the following sections:
• COVID-19 Hindsight invites respondents to opine on the reverberations of the crisis, allowing comparability with the results from the previous year.
• Future Outlook captures respondent sentiment, informing our analysis of how individual contexts may influence global risk perceptions and affect mitigation.
• Horizon captures respondents’ perceived trajectory and sense of urgency of global risks, informing our analysis of choices and trade-offs that decision-makers may face.
• Severity ranks potential damage while Effects asks respondents to consider cascading impacts in conjunction with the severity of the risk itself.
• International Mitigation asks respondents to assess international efforts in 15 global governance areas to identify achievements and areas of opportunity for global action and cooperation.
This year the Global Risks Report also draws on the views of over 12,000 country-level leaders who identified critical short-term risks to their 124 countries, gathered through the World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey. The areas highlighted in these responses are likely to inform national decision-making and provide a perspective on how short-term risk national priorities may compare with global risks and perspectives.
We are ever grateful to our partners in the report’s development: Marsh McLennan, SK Group and Zurich Insurance Group. We also thank our academic partners: the National University of Singapore, the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford and the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
This report continues to leverage the collective intelligence of an expanding community of the world’s foremost risk experts, convened by the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Practice: the Global Risks Report Advisory Board, the Chief Risk Officers Community and the Global Future Council on Frontier Risks, as well as a series of consultations with regional and thematic experts from the public and private sectors.
The report also draws from and supports the World Economic Forum’s platforms dedicated to catalysing a new economy and society, accelerating climate action for people and the planet, leveraging Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, stewarding industry transformations and enhancing global and regional cooperation. These platforms and their stakeholders use the insights from this report to shape their agendas for tackling the world’s greatest challenges and embedding greater resilience and cooperation.