World Economic Forum Report: Global Risks 2015 – 10th Edition

The 10th Annual World Economic Forum Global Risks Report highlights the most significant long-term risks worldwide, and “failure of climate change adaptation," is one of the top risks determined that the world faces in terms of both impact and likelihood. "Extreme weather events" - a separate category - is the second likeliest cause of global risk (behind international conflict).

The Global Risks report completes a decade of analysis which has moved from risk identification to thinking through risk interconnections and the resulting cascading effects. In addition to identifying 28 global risks in the report’s traditional categories (economic, environmental, societal, geopolitical and technological), the drivers of those risks are also considered in the form of 13 trends. The 2015 report underscores potential causes as well as solutions to global risks, including a new section sharing examples of risk mitigation and resilience practices.

According to the report “past warnings of potential environmental catastrophes have begun to be borne out, yet insufficient progress has been made - as reflected in the high concerns about the failure of climate-change adaptation and looming water crises in this year’s report. These multiple cross-cutting challenges can threaten social stability, perceived to be the issue most interconnected with other risks in 2015.”

This resource was featured in the January 23, 2015, ASAP Newsletter.

"The 10th Annual Global Risk Report highlights many risks. "Failure of climate change adaptation," is one of the top risks the world faces in terms of both impact and likelihood. "Extreme weather events" - a separate category - is the second likeliest cause of global risk (behind interstate conflict). The report features some fetching charts and graphs that map the likelihood and impact of risks as well as display the interconnection of global trends and those risks."

Part 1 of the report discusses the results of the Global Risks Perception Survey 2014. It explains the distinction between risks and trends, visualizes the likelihood of interconnections between risks, and analyzes the difference in risk perceptions over different time horizons.

Part 2 explores three topics that emerged strongly from the interconnections between risks and trends: the interplay between geopolitics and economics, rapid urbanization in developing countries, and emerging technologies. The data gathered for this analysis suggest that urbanization is a critical driver of profound social instability, failure of critical infrastructure, water crises, and the spread of infectious diseases.

Part 3 discusses risk management and risk resilience: it presents survey respondents’ views on which risks have most successfully been addressed over the past 10 years, and shares practices from the public and private sectors that offer ways forward to address global risks.

Part 3 also features three proven or promising initiatives that were instituted in response to extreme weather events and climate change adaptation:

The modeling of the Murray-Darling Basin river system in Australia has pioneered innovative methods of water management that are now being adapted for use elsewhere in the world.

The Resilient America Roundtable is currently helping selected local communities across the United States to understand how they might be affected by different risks and then design resilience strategies.

ZÜRS Public, part of an extensive flood management program in Germany, is a public-private collaboration that for several years now has been a tool for communicating with homeowners and businesses about their exposure to flood risk

As in previous years, the report is based on the annual Global Risks Perception Survey, completed by almost 900 members of the World Economic Forum’s global multi-stakeholder community. Produced within the Forum’s networked think tank, the Centre for Global Strategies, the report is able to draw on unique expertise available within the different communities and the knowledge networks of the World Economic Forum, as well as within the organization as a whole.

The full methodology for the survey is shared in Appendix B. The complete set of data can be explored online at:


Publication Date: January 2015

Related Organizations:

  • World Economic Forum

Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Assessment

Go To Resource