The disruptive political events and social unrest of 2016 may pose significant operational and strategic risk for businesses, according to the Global Risks 2017 report. With events at the ballot box and on the streets exposing flaws in the systems of liberalism and globalization, business leaders must think differently about priorities and risk management practices.
The 12th edition of the report, prepared by the World Economic Forum with Marsh & McLennan Companies as a strategic partner, provides an outlook on the threats facing the world in 2017 and examines some of their root causes: rising inequality, political polarization and nationalism, and disruptive technological change.
Among the key findings from the report:
- Economic problems are a root cause of instability: Advanced economies are experiencing stagnant economic growth and significant productivity challenges while emerging markets are enduring both a downturn and high levels of fiscal fragility.
- Technological change must be managed: The speed of disruption is destabilizing. Artificial intelligence presents particular risks based on its decision-making powers with security and safety consequences. Cyber-attacks continue testing critical infrastructure as well as commercial ventures, and are becoming more extensively used by states and terrorists against their enemies.
- Politics are frayed: Public approval of political leaders is low, party systems have buckled, and an anti-establishment feeling is high.
- Global cooperation is under strain: Heightened domestic anxiety has intensified geostrategic competition. Advanced economies look to strengthen border controls, while climate change reform hovers under a cloud of uncertainty and trade agreements are collapsing.