The Global Risks Report explores some of the most severe risks we may face over the next decade, against a backdrop of rapid technological change, economic uncertainty, a warming planet and conflict. As cooperation comes under pressure, weakened economies and societies may only require the smallest shock to edge past the tipping point of resilience.
A deteriorating global outlook
Gaza and Israel, alongside record-breaking heat conditions, drought, wildfires and flooding. Societal discontent was palpable in many countries, with news cycles dominated by polarization, violent protests, riots and strikes.ccording to the report, looking back at the events of 2023, plenty of developments captured the attention of people around the world – while others received minimal scrutiny. Vulnerable populations grappled with lethal conflicts, from Sudan to
Although globally destabilizing consequences – such as those seen at the initial outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war or the COVID-19 pandemic – were largely avoided, the longer-term outlook for these developments could bring further global shocks.
..the report highlights.
As we enter 2024, 2023-2024 GRPS results highlight a predominantly negative outlook for the world over the next two years that is expected to worsen over the next decade. Surveyed in September 2023, the majority of respondents (54%) anticipate some instability and a moderate risk of global catastrophes, wFhile another 30% expect even more turbulent conditions. The outlook is markedly more negative over the 10-year time horizon, with nearly two-thirds of respondents expecting a stormy or turbulent outlook.
Environmental risks could hit the point of no return
Environmental risks continue to dominate the risks landscape over all three time frames. Two-thirds of GRPS respondents rank Extreme weather as the top risk most likely to present a material crisis on a global scale in 2024, with the warming phase of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle projected to intensify and persist until May this year. It is also seen as the second-most severe risk over the two-year time frame and similar to last year’s rankings, nearly all environmental risks feature among the top 10 over the longer term.
As polarization grows and technological risks remain unchecked, ‘truth’ will come under pressure
Societal polarization features among the top three risks over both the current and two-year time horizons, ranking #9 over the longer term. In addition, Societal polarization and Economic downturn are seen as the most interconnected – and therefore influential – risks in the global risks network, as drivers and possible
consequences of numerous risks.
Emerging as the most severe global risk anticipated over the next two years, foreign and domestic actors alike will leverage Misinformation and disinformation to further widen societal and political divides.
Economic strains on low- and middle-income people – and countries – are set to grow
The Cost-of-living crisis remains a major concern in the outlook for 2024. The economic risks of Inflation (#7) and Economic downturn (#9) are also notable new entrants to the top 10risk rankings over the two-year period. Although a “softer landing” appears to be prevailing for now, the near-term outlook remains highly
uncertain. There are multiple sources of continued supply-side price pressures looming over the next two years, from El Niño conditions to the potential escalation of live conflicts. And if interest rates remain relatively high for longer, small- and mediumsized enterprises and heavily indebted countries will be particularly exposed to debt distress.
As informed, economic uncertainty will weigh heavily across most markets, but capital will be the costliest for the most vulnerable countries. Climate-vulnerable or conflict prone countries stand to be increasingly locked out of much-needed digital and physical infrastructure, trade and green investments and related economic opportunities. As the adaptive capacities of these fragile states erodes further, related societal and environmental impacts are amplified.
The world in 2024
The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing Russia-Ukraine war has exposed cracks in societies that are being further strained by episodic upheaval. Yet the global system has thus far proved surprisingly resilient. A widely anticipated recession failed to materialize last year, and financial turbulence was quickly subdued, but the outlook remains uncertain. Political strife and violent conflicts, from Niger and Sudan to Gaza and Israel, have captured the attention and apprehension of populations worldwide in some instances while attracting little focus in others. These developments have not yet led to wider regional conflicts – nor have they created globally destabilizing consequences such as those seen at the initial outbreak of the war in Ukraine or the COVID-19 pandemic – but their long-term outlook could bring further shocks.
The path to 2026
Weakened systems only require the smallest shock to edge past the tipping point of resilience. In the second time frame covered by the survey,
respondents were asked to rank the likely impact of risks in the next two years. The results suggest that corrosive socioeconomic vulnerabilities will be
amplified in the near term, with looming concerns about an Economic downturn, resurgent risks such as Interstate armed conflict, and rapidly evolving risks like
Misinformation and disinformation.
Annual change in global risk perceptions over the short term (2 years)