We publish the 2019 edition of the
World Economic Forum’s Global
Risks Report at an important
moment. The world is facing a
growing number of complex and
interconnected challenges—from
slowing global growth and persistent
economic inequality to climate
change, geopolitical tensions and
the accelerating pace of the Fourth
Industrial Revolution. In isolation,
these are daunting challenges;
faced simultaneously, we will
struggle if we do not work together.
There has never been a more
pressing need for a collaborative
and multistakeholder approach to
shared global problems.
This is a globalized world, as a
result of which historic reductions in
global poverty have been achieved.
But it is also increasingly clear that
change is needed. Polarization is on
the rise in many countries. In some
cases, the social contracts that hold
societies together are fraying. This
is an era of unparalleled resources
and technological advancement, but
for too many people it is also an era
of insecurity. We are going to need
new ways of doing globalization that
respond to this insecurity. In some
areas, this may mean redoubling
efforts at the international level—
implementing new approaches to
a range of issues: technology and
climate change to trade, taxation,
migration and humanitarianism. In
other areas renewed commitment
and resources will be needed at the
national level—tackling inequality,
for example, or strengthening
social protections and the bonds of
political community.
Renewing and improving the
architecture of our national and
international political and economic
systems is this generation’s defining
task. It will be a monumental
undertaking, but an indispensable
one. The Global Risks Report
demonstrates how high the
stakes are—my hope is that this
year’s report will also help to build
momentum behind the need to act.
It begins with a sweep of the global
risks landscape and warns of the
danger of sleepwalking into crises.
It goes on to consider a number
of risks in depth: geopolitical and
geo-economic disruptions, rising
sea levels, emerging biological
threats, and the increasing
emotional and psychological strain
that many people are experiencing.
The Future Shocks section again
focuses on potential rapid and
dramatic changes in the systems
we rely on—topics this year include
quantum computing, human rights
and economic populism.
The Global Risks Report
embodies the collaborative and
multistakeholder ethos of the
World Economic Forum. It sits at
the heart of our new Centre for
Regional and Geopolitical Affairs,
which is responsible for our crucial
partnerships with the world’s
governments and international
organizations. But the breadth
and depth of its analysis also hinge
on constant interaction with the
Forum’s industry and thematic
teams, which shape our systemsbased
approach to the challenges
facing the world. I am grateful
for the collaboration of so many
colleagues in this endeavour.
I am also particularly grateful for
the insight and dedication of the
report’s Advisory Board. I would like
to thank our long-standing strategic
partners, Marsh & McLennan
Companies and Zurich Insurance
Group, as well as our academic
advisers at 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. As
in previous years, the Global Risks
Report draws on our annual Global
Risks Perceptions Survey, which
is completed by around 1,000
members of our multistakeholder
communities. The report has also
benefitted greatly from the input
of many individuals in the Forum’s
global expert networks.