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Global Risks 2017, Part II: The World Economic Forum Weighs In

Every year, the World Economic Forum (WEF) issues a publication, The Global Risks Report, polling 750 thought leaders about the largest risks they see on the horizon, and those that have the most potential to affect developments across the globe.

The Global Risks Report can be a useful tool for planning future business strategy especially since the risks are often interconnected and the solutions dependent upon each other.

In Part I, we look at the top two risks, 1) economic growth and reform and 2) the need for identity and community. Here, we explore the remaining three.

Risk #3: Managing Technological Change

Risk #3 was about technology news. Although many blame globalization for weak job markets and economic decline, the WEF report highlighted technological changes as more responsible, especially artificial intelligence (AI) and robots. Although the report noted that innovation creates jobs, it also expressed concern that the creation of jobs due to technological innovation may be slowing.

CNBC noted that one of the collaborators on the report praised AI as having the ability to contribute to issues like climate change and overpopulation. However, he also believes that increased use of and reliance on AI may lead to yet more risks, such as those in cybersecurity and cybercrime. Measures will be needed to ensure that these risks don’t materialize, or are contained if they do.

Risk #4: Bolstering Geopolitical Ties

The WEF report noted the weakening of geopolitical ties as a chief element in 2016, and a significant risk going forward. It pinpointed both the Paris Climate Change agreement and global agreements on Syrian refugee migration, including weak responses from the United Nations and political differences in countries about accepting migrants.

Risk #5: Environmental Action on Climate Change

Risk #5 is to some degree a subset of Risk #4. The WEF has focused on environmental dangers since 2010, and continued to do so in 2017.

It noted that extreme weather events, water crises, and a lack of movement on stopping climate change all contributed to environment risk, and exerted negative impacts on issues like political and national conflict and migration.

The Paris accord has been approved by over 110 countries, which was given as an example of progress in climate change. But the rate of change was still felt to pose a risk. The World Meteorological Organization reported that 2016 was the warmest year on record. The UN’s 2016 Emissions Gap Report forecast that emissions would need to be pared to 0 by 2100 in order to avert climate change rated as dangerous.

that imperiled projected that the world would need to eradicate emissions altogether by the year 2100 in order to avoid dangerous climate change.

The report’s focus on the need for global cooperation across nations and agencies highlights how interdependent it sees many of the top five risks being.