The world's vulnerability to economic shocks and social upheaval has the potential to undermine the progress that globalization has brought, according to "Global Risks 2012," the flagship report from the World Economic Forum's Risk Response Network, published in cooperation with Marsh & McLennan Companies, the parent company of Marsh, and other partners.
Based on a survey of 469 experts and industry leaders, the report finds that chronic fiscal imbalances and severe income disparity are the risks that are rated most likely to occur over the next 10 years, while a systemic financial crisis and food and water shortages are seen to have the highest potential impact over the same period. Compared with a year ago, the results show a shift of concern from environmental risks to socio-economic ones.
The report examines three major risk cases of concern:
The Seeds of Dystopia — Bulging populations of young people with few prospects, growing numbers of retirees depending on debt-saddled states, and the expanding gap between rich and poor are all fuelling resentment.
Unsafe Safeguards — As the world grows ever more complex and interdependent, traditional policies, norms, and institutions that serve as a protective system are failing to keep up.
The Dark Side of Connectivity — Our daily lives are almost entirely dependent on connected online systems, making us susceptible to malicious individuals, institutions, and nations that increasingly have the ability to unleash devastating cyber attacks remotely and anonymously.