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World Economic Forum - Global risks report

The 2016 Global Risks Report (GRR) analyses the responses of 750 experts and decision-makers to the Global Risks Perception Survey, in which they were asked to give an estimate of the likelihood and impact of 29 different risks, categorised into 5 categories: societal (s), technological (t), economic (ec), environmental (en) and geopolitical (g).

The report is divided into four sections: Part 1 describes the methodology and major outcomes of the Global Risks Report, with a particular focus on interconnectedness between risks; Part 2 focuses on the state of international security, looking forward towards possible scenarios for 2030 based on current continued instability and international responses to it; Part 3 examines specific risks and challenges in greater depth, focussing on three risk clusters identified in Part 1 as being of particular threat (the “(dis)empowered citizen”; climate change and food security; and pandemics); Part 4 takes a closer look at risks issues identified as the biggest risks for the business community, based on the World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey.

The top 10 risks in terms of likelihood were reported to be:

  • Large-scale involuntary migration (s)
  • Extreme weather events (en)
  • Failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation (en)
  • Interstate conflict (g)
  • Natural catastrophes (en)
  • Failure of national governance (g)
  • Unemployment or underemployment (ec)
  • Data fraud or theft (t)
  • Water crises (s)
  • Illicit trade (ec)

While the top 10 risks in terms of impact were reported to be:

  • Failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation (en)
  • Weapons of mass destruction (g)
  • Water crises (s)
  • Large-scale involuntary migration (s)
  • Energy price shock (ec)
  • Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse (en)
  • Fiscal crises (ec)
  • Spread of infectious diseases (s)
  • Asset bubble (ec)
  • Profound social instability (s)

The report concludes by emphasising the need to “move beyond mitigation to adaptation and building resilience” and highlights the importance of the many different global stakeholders identifying common ground and key priorities in order to effectively tackle interconnected risks.


The Global Risks Report 2016 features perspectives from nearly 750 experts on the perceived impact and likelihood of 29 prevalent global risks over a 10-year timeframe. The risks are divided into five categories: economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal and technological.

The report also examines the interconnections among the risks, and through that analysis explores three areas where global risks have the greatest potential to impact society. These are the concept of the “(dis)empowered citizen”, the impact of climate change on food security, and the potential of pandemics to threaten social cohesion.

The report also takes an in-depth look at the how the global security landscape could evolve in the future; sharing the outcomes of a year-long study to examine current trends and possible driving forces for the future of international security.


World Economic Forum (2016) The Global Risks Report 2016 11th Edition. Geneva

Read the full report here.

You can find related resources in the research Library categories on economic and political theories,  climate change: mitigation, climate change: impacts and adaptation, biodiversity and ecosystems, water. See also keyword category on resilience

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