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An Assessment of the Top 21 Risks that Threaten the Next Decade
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Our world is evolving rapidly, and so are risks. Rapid innovation, growing political tensions, climate change and the unexpected rise of infectious diseases have made it increasingly complex to anticipate, assess, or mitigate risks.Risks are now increasingly interconnected, which if amplified can trigger a ripple effect across industries, regions, and diverse stakeholder groups. Therefore, mitigating them will involve the adoption of a cohesive, interdisciplinary, and multipronged approach. Policymakers, businesses, and individuals are constantly challenged, often due to their unpreparedness, to assess the impact and to identify growth opportunities emerging from these risks.The global future risks report provides a compelling analysis that will not only help stakeholders understand the impact of future risks but also equip them to act on clear growth opportunities. The risks discussed in this study were determined by our global team of futurists, consultants, and analysts, with consultation from thought leaders throughout the company. As such, they encompass a broad spectrum of risks, reveal future impacts around the world, and outline growth opportunities for risk mitigation.Our rigorous research process involves the collation of an exhaustive list of global risks for the short, medium and long terms. These have then been filtered to identify the top 21 risks affecting 4 key spectrums: global stability, ecological balance, human productivity, and technological advancement.At the risk impact assessment level, the study analyzes key indicators, drivers and trigger points that influence the risk and outlines their impact through the short, medium and long terms. The study also provides a risk scenario assessment wherein both negative and positive outcomes are discussed for two scenarios: risk mitigated versus risk amplified. New growth opportunities that correspond to the risk have been identified as per projected impact and certainty. The study also provides an insight into the next strategic action companies must take to mitigate these risks and leverage growth opportunities.The short, medium and long-term risks are identified as follows:Short-term Risks: A hyperconnected world will expose governments, organizations, and individuals to privacy, disinformation and cybersecurity threats. Two-thirds of the world will live in water-stressed conditions and natural disasters will erode ecological balance. Infectious diseases such, as the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak will trigger global health and economic concerns. International trade disputes, rising protectionism, political upheavals, and national withdrawals (e.g., Brexit) could severely affect global economic activity.Medium-term risks: About 60% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2025, leading to infrastructure stress and a shortage of productive employment opportunities. The lack of basic amenities and low agricultural output could lead to a resource nexus. Human productivity will be affected by a rapidly aging population. Dietary imbalances and undernourishment will result in obesity and malnutrition. Climate change will cause the global temperature to rise by 1.5°C if carbon emissions are not curtailed.Long-term risks: AI and automation could together replace 20 million jobs by 2030. Rapid advances in AI could put critical national infrastructure at risk and potentially lead to a state of cyber warfare. An unethical and unregulated digital environment could pose serious threats to personal and organizational privacy and national security. An increasingly squeezed middle class will result in a global state of wealth inequality. A national identity crisis could result in geopolitical conflicts, marginalization, and terrorism.The complete list of risks is given below. Short-term Risks: • Privacy & disinformation• Cyber risks• Neo-nationalism and political upheaval• Water crisis• Rise of infectious diseases• Global economic slowdown • Natural disastersMedium-term Risks: • Urbanization risks• Obesity & lifestyle risks• Future of mental wellbeing• Climate change• Resource nexus• Aging and at-risk population• Malnutrition and health risksLong-term Risks: • AI as a Threat • Future of neural interfaces and invasive technologies• Future of digital regulatory uncertainty• National identity crisis• Shifting global alliances• Future of wealth inequities• Threats to the future of workThe study presents more than 80 growth opportunities arising from these 21 risks, which will help policymakers, companies, and individuals take immediate, tactical and strategic actions and draw plans to mitigate risks.Author: Vinay Venkatesan
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