WEF calls for long term thinking and global co-operation to address biggest risks

16 January 2014

The Oxford Martin School was one of three academic partners for the 2014 Global Risks Report from the World Economic Forum. The report, which analyses 31 global risks, looks at many of the pressing issues highlighted in ‘Now for the Long Term’, published by the School in October.

A team from the School was involved in a number of workshops and policy discussions, which fed into the Global Risks Report, and our team comprised Professor Ian Goldin, Director; Natalie Day, Head of Policy and a number of programme directors.

At the report launch on 16 January 2014 in London, Jennifer Blanke, Chief Economist at the World Economic Forum, called for "stakeholders to work together to address and adapt to the presence of global risks in our world today".

Seven hundred experts contributed to the report and together they highlighted the chronic gap between the incomes of the richest and poorest citizens in the world and within individual countries as the risk that is most likely to cause serious damage globally within the next decade.

Taking a 10-year outlook, the report assesses the risks that are global in nature and have the potential to cause significant negative impact across entire countries and industries if they take place. The risks are grouped into economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal and technological and measured in terms of both likelihood and potential impact.

Looking at global stability in the next five to ten years, the report presents four key threats:

  • Emerging market uncertainties, whereby major emerging markets become unstable as a result of social political or economic pressures;
  • Commercial and political frictions between countries, where trade and investment become increasingly used as a proxy for geopolitical power, with increased flashpoints as a result;
  • Proliferation of low-level conflict, caused by technological change and reluctance of major powers to intervene, which could easily spill over into full-scale warfare;
  • Slow progress on global challenges, where persisting deadlock in global governance institutions leads to failure to address adequately environmental and development challenges that are truly global in nature.

Speaking at the launch, John Drzik, President of Global Risk and Specialities at Marsh, said: “The world needs more coordinated governance to prevent slow-burning, systemic risks from developing into full-blown crises.”

Explaining the work of the Oxford Martin School on risk, Professor Goldin said: "The School is engaged in wide-ranging research on key dimensions of global risk. Our work aims to understand and find ways to prevent financial crises, pandemics, cyberattacks, climate change and other pressing risks.

"Our research examines systemic risk and complexity and demonstrates how many of these risks are becoming interwoven. Our aim is to provide insights for the better governance of businesses, countries and the global community to mitigate and build resilience against what we see as escalating and potentially cascading risks."