World Economic Forum: Global Risks 2011

WEF Global Risks 2011

In advance of the annual Davos World Economic Forum event, the organisation has published their global risks report. This is an excellent report based on a professional survey whose 580 respondents cut across government, business, media and beyond.

The results point to 37 global risks each given an impact and a likelihood rating. They are also broken down into 5 categories: economic, geopolitical, environmental, societal and technological. A further useful analysis uses systems thinking to consider the interconnectedness and clustering of different risks. We sometimes use similar tools in our strategic decision consulting and this process often reveals surprising insights.

In summary, the two most critical risks identified in the report were:

  1. Economic disparity and social  fragmentation (interconnected)
  2. Global governance failures

And the three most important clusters were

  1. The macroeconomic imbalance cluster
  2. The illegal economy cluster
  3. Water-food-energy cluster

Each cluster is reviewed and risks and impacts are described; major uncertainties addressed; and levers and trade-off’s identified.

You may be asking yourself “Why do I need to read this as there is little I can do to impact on these risks?”. Although some readers may have positions of direct or indirect influence and should act responsibly on impacting the underlying causes, almost everyone reading this blog should be considering the potential impact of these risks on their own organisations and careers. Here I am not simply referring to the threats, but with all risks come opportunities  in various guises – and these issues must be brought into the debate when taking strategic decisions.

Below, there is a link where one can download the pdf document and a further link to the interactive web-based report. Although the hard copy is useful to have when the web is not accessible, where possible I would recommend the interactive web-based version which also contains interviews and videos. The WEF have become exceptionally good at using these types of features in their documents, so grab your iPads and netbooks and dive in.

If any of you would prefer a presentation and a facilitated discussion with your Board or Exco, we at Genesis would be delighted to conduct that process with you – contact Simon at to plan a date (note, we will be available for such in South Africa in the week beginning 31st January).

WEF global-risks-2011 pdf

WEF global risks 2011 Interactive report

Note: if the link does not work (sometimes the site has access problems), go to and click on the report displayed.


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3 Responses to World Economic Forum: Global Risks 2011

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  3. barrager says:


    Thanks for bringing my attention to this. Very useful overview.

    I think those of us in the decision making “business” have a key role to play in addressing the governance failures and certainly in identifying and managing the risks.

    Steve Barrager

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