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BW Businessworld

Risks That Unite

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Globalisation is often criticised for dividing the world and creating inequality. The uneven pace of economic development in different parts of the world has given globalisation a bad name. Much of the fault lies within the countries that have not been able to scale up their institutions to meet the needs of a rapidly changing world. Some fault also lies at the door of global institutions that were created by and for the first world.

Much of the global game is played by rules that suit the developed world. As the emerging markets march towards prosperity and frontier economies pull themselves out of poverty, the rules of the game are fated to become more egalitarian.

Emerging and frontier markets still lag the developed world in leveraging opportunities since they are yet to develop adequate capabilities. The challenges though don’t distinguish between the rich and the poor.

The list of challenges identified by the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Risks Report 2015 should worry every single leader of the world. In many of these risks, world leaders are part of the problem. Now they must choose to be part of the solution.  Each of these risks binds governments from New Delhi to Addis Ababa to London to Washington to Bogota.

The top ten risks to the world according to WEF report listed here can affect every single citizen on the planet. (

Top 5 Global Risks in Terms of Likelihood
1.    Interstate conflict with regional consequences (geopolitical risk)
2.    Extreme weather events (environmental risk)
3.    Failure of national governance (geopolitical risk)
4.    State collapse or crisis (geopolitical risk)
5.    High structural unemployment or underemployment (economic risk)

Top 5 Global Risks in Terms of Impact
1.    Water crises (societal risk)
2.    Rapid and massive spread of infectious diseases (societal risk)
3.    Weapons of mass destruction (geopolitical risk)
4.    Interstate conflict with regional consequences (geopolitical risk)
5.    Failure of climate-change adaptation (environmental risk)

More than 900 international experts participated in this global risk perception survey. It is significant that interstate conflicts that were once considered the problem of nations in Africa are now as relevant for Europe. Water crises faced by Asia are now as much a problem in the Americas.
The gathering of more than 40 heads of state along with over 2,500 business and society leaders will have much to mull about. Cooperation at the highest level that rises above socio-economic divisions would be key in containing the impending crises.

The younger generation would expect nothing less. Millennials (aged 18-34) across the world are becoming increasing impatient with world’s leaders. With their future at stake, millennials see too much complacency and too little commitment for active change among their leaders.

The millennials are deeply concerned about a deeper malaise – corruption -- that impacts and contributes to each of the ten risks identified by WEF. In a survey millennials say corruption holds back their country; denies them opportunities and jeopardizes the security of friends and family.  The survey was done by WEF’s Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI), in collaboration with the UNODC, Transparency International, Accountability Lab and the International Student Festival in Trondheim  (

These young global citizens are demanding global action against corruption and also preparing to arm themselves with tools to fight it.

At Davos this year, the leaders will do well to pay heed to common risks and restive millennials. Challenges are no longer ours or theirs. They are everyone’s.  These challenges define the theme at Davos 2015: The New Global Context.  

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