Global risks that will shape our near future
The World Economic Forum released its annual Global Risks Report for 2024. General conclusions show a deteriorating global outlook over the next two years, that is expected to worsen over the next decade. According to the report the structural forces that will shape the materialization and management of global risks are: climate and demographic changes, technological acceleration, and geostrategic shifts. The report calls for cross-border collaboration at scale as a critical way to deal with risks that are decisive for human security and prosperity in the near future.
Main findings of the report:
- Top five global risks in 2024: Extreme weather, AI-generated misinformation and disinformation, Societal and/or political polarization, cost of living crisis and cyberattacks. Inter-state armed conflict is alarmingly a new entrant into the top risk rankings over the two-year horizon (moving up to fifth position from ninth last year).
- Climate Change: Environmental risks could hit the point of no return. Two-thirds of survey´s respondents rank “Extreme weather” as the top global risk most likely to present a material crisis in 2024. Top four risks in the long term (10 years), are all environmental risks.
- Societal polarization features is among the top three risks over both, the current and two-year time horizons and ranks#9 over the longer term. Societal polarization and economic downturn are seen as the most interconnected and therefore influential risks in the global risks network, as drivers of numerous risks.
- Geopolitics in a multipolar or fragmented world: Dissatisfaction with the continued dominance of the Global North grows, an evolving set of states (Global South) will seek a more pivotal influence on the global stage across multiple domains, asserting their power in military, technological and economic terms, leading to novel power dynamics where access to technology, critical minerals or competitive advantages in upstream value chains will be key.
- Misinformation and disinformation: Apart from fueling the societal and political divides, use of misinformation and disinformation, may undermine the legitimacy of newly elected governments in the many upcoming elections around the world. This could involve a wide range of scenarios for channeling social unrest (from violent protests to civil clashes or terrorism…). In the other side of the coin, there is a risk of repression and erosion of rights (such as “censorship and erosion of free speech”) when authorities seek to crack down on the proliferation of false information.