News Analysis

What are the top global risks facing boards?

by Stephen Conmy on Feb 7, 2022

 “A global war”, “Social cohesion erosion”, “livelihood crises” and “mental health deterioration” are three of the most concerning threats and top global risks facing boards, according to the latest WEF Global Risks Report.

Crisis management

As a board member, you should be aware of the risks facing your organisation. Regardless of the risks or threats you face, it is important that your organisation has a crisis management plan in place to address the situation if the risk does become a reality.

Corporate crisis situations often begin with risks and threats. A few risks are universal and impact every company, while others are relative and depend on a company’s business model or industry.

Get the full report

The WEF Global Risks Report tracks global risks perceptions among risk experts and world leaders in business, government, and civil society. 

It examines risks across five categories: economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal, and technological. 

You can download the full report here.

The top global risks facing boards

“War”, “Social cohesion erosion”, “livelihood crises” and “mental health deterioration” are four of the most concerning threats to the world in the next two years. 

This societal scarring further challenges national policy-making by limiting resources, leadership focus, and public support required to boost international collaboration on global challenges.

However, the state of the planet remains a constant concern. “Extreme weather” and “climate action failure” are among the biggest short-, medium-, and long-term risks. 

As governments try to balance their fiscal priorities, economic risks such as “debt crises” and “asset bubble burst” also surface. 

Over the longer term, geopolitical and technological risks are also a concern, such as “geo-economic confrontations” [war], “geopolitical resource contests” and “cybersecurity failures”.

Respondents noted that societal and environmental risks have worsened the most since the start of the pandemic, with “social cohesion erosion” and “livelihood crises” taking the top spots. 

Other risks identified as having worsened significantly are “debt crises”, “cybersecurity failures”, “digital inequality”, “war” and the “backlash against science”.

84% of respondents to the WEF survey expressed negative feelings about the future—that is, they were “concerned” or “worried”.

Pervasive pessimism could create a cycle of disillusionment that makes galvanising action even more challenging.

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