Conclusions of World Economic Forum's Global Risks 2011

Extracted from Global Risks 2011. Free report can be downloaded from

As the different chapters of this report have shown, addressing global risks requires new capacities in terms of risk analysis as well as formal and informal risk response mechanisms at the global level. Three key features stand out to define the requirements of these capacities:

• First, interconnections between risks require us to better understand the systems behind risks as well as the risk context. It is no longer sufficient to simply assess operational risks in the corporate context or national security challenges in the government context. Identifying the central nodes in risk interconnections is a crucial element of risk response. Analyses such as the one provided in this report that focus on risk interconnections therefore play an important role at focusing the debate on risk response.

• Second, with global risks playing out both at the global and national levels and different stakeholders being affected in different ways, the world faces a significant challenge in coordinating national and global responses. By definition, none of the risks discussed in this report can be addressed by a single actor alone; we therefore need to continue efforts to create a common framework for assessing risks in a multistakeholder, collaborative environment.

• Third, while in an increasingly turbulent global environment there is the temptation to always focus on the most recent risk event, it is important to take a long-term perspective to risk assessment and response. Many global risks could emerge over decades rather than months or years; this is one reason why this report maintains a ten-year outlook. Long-term commitment is required to ensure that the effectiveness of the response matches the magnitude of global risks.

As such, addressing the two central risks in this report – economic disparity and global governance failures – could go a long way towards improving both the effectiveness of risk response and overall resilience at the global level. Both risks have strong impact on the three important clusters highlighted by this year’s risk perception survey. While many of the longer-term developments and effects of global risks are difficult to anticipate with a reasonable degree of certainty, investments in these central risks are certain to have positive effects on overall risk resilience.

However even with the best analysis, we can never anticipate or prepare for all risks. In an increasingly connected world, there is a plethora of risks that are beyond the planning and assessment capacities of decision-makers and risk experts alike. To be prepared for these future challenges and to continue to seize opportunities in rapidly changing strategic environments, organizations and decision-makers must continue to invest in our ability to adapt and learn, thereby building more resilient systems. We hope that the Forum’s Risk Response Network will make a tangible and valuable contribution towards achieving this goal.

See also earlier post on 10MAY2011 at