Global Risk Report 2016–The Ecology of Risks



In my previous posts on the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2016, I have concentrated on

  • the methodology of the report (corresponding to the Plan Risk Management process of Project Management),
  • the identification of risks (corresponding to the Identify Risks process of Project Management)
  • the qualitative analysis of risks (corresponding to the Perform Qualitative Analysis process of Project Management)

Although I have discussed in the last posts on the qualitative analysis of risks those individual global risks which are considered to have the highest probability and/or potential impact, this post goes to Figure 2 of the Global Risk Report, the “Global Risks Interconnections Map 2016.”   In order to visually appreciate this map you need to download the actual report at

Click to access WEF_GRR16.pdf

However, I would like to discuss those global risks which are considered to be the 10 most interconnected with other global risks.

Global Risk Category
1. Profound social instability Societal
2. Large-scale social instability Societal
3. Failure of climate-change mitigation or adaptation Environmental
4. State collapse or crisis Geopolitical
5. Interstate conflict Geopolitical
6 Fiscal crises Economic
7. Extreme weather events Environmental
8. Water crises Societal
9. Food crises Societal
10. Cyberattacks Technological

Here are some things to notice about these risks.

a.  The risks that made the list of “most interconnected” were societal risks.   If you look at the risk map in Figure 2, they are the ones that are in the center of the map, and have the most links leading to it.

b.  One way to look at the interconnected issue is to notice that the Syrian refugee crisis was preceded by a water crisis in turn exacerbated by the extreme heat and drought brought about by the initial stages of global warming, resulting in the internal migration from the desert to the cities.   The crackdown of the Syrian government against rebellion take an even larger toll on Syrian society, which caused large-scale involuntary migration from those rebel areas that were being targeted militarily by the government.  In turn, this started to have an effect on neighboring countries which drew in both Russia and the United States.

The interconnectedness of these risks is part of their difficulty, but also integral to the opportunities that are presented if they can be mitigated.  Their interconnected precludes simple solutions such as dropping bombs on rebel-held areas.   But if the crisis can be mitigated through multilateral diplomatic efforts, a lot of problems can be effectively solved at one .and the same time.

The cascading effect of one risk effecting a network of others can be seen as a danger or an opportunity.

The next post discusses how global risks are perceived differently, depending on the region of the world you happen to live in.





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